Transient heat stress during early seed development primes germination and seedling establishment in rice

Kevin Begcy, Jaspreet Sandhu, Harkamal Walia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Rice yield is highly sensitive to increased temperature. Given the trend of increasing global temperatures, this sensitivity to higher temperatures poses a challenge for achieving global food security. Early seed development in rice is highly sensitive to unfavorable environmental conditions. Heat stress (HS) during this stage decreases seed size and fertility, thus reducing yield. Here, we explore the transgenerational phenotypic consequences of HS during early seed development on seed viability, germination, and establishment. To elucidate the impact of HS on the developmental events in post-zygotic rice seeds, we imposed moderate (35°C) and severe (39°C) HS treatments initiated 1 day after fertilization and maintained for 24, 48, or 72 h. The transient HS treatments altered the initiation of endosperm (ED) cellularization, seed size and/or the duration of spikelet ripening. Notably, seeds exposed to 24 and 48 h moderate HS exhibited higher germination rate compared to seeds derived from plants grown under control or severe HS. A short-term HS resulted in altered expression of Gibberellin (GA) and ABA biosynthesis genes during early seed development, and GA and ABA levels and starch content at maturity. The increased germination rate after 24 of moderate HS could be due to altered ABA sensitivity and/or increased starch level. Our findings on the impact of transient HS on hormone homeostasis provide an experimental framework to elucidate the underlying molecular and metabolic pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1768
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - 2018


  • ABA-GA crosstalk
  • Endosperm
  • Heat stress
  • Seed development
  • Seed priming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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