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C R Biol. 2008 Oct;331(10):780-7. doi: 10.1016/j.crvi.2008.07.020. Epub 2008 Sep 11.

Determinism of carbon and nitrogen reserve accumulation in legume seeds.

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INRA ENESAD, UMR102 Génétique et ecophysiologie des légumineuses, BP 86510, 21000 Dijon, France.


In legume plants, the determination of individual seed weight is a complex phenomenon that depends on two main factors. The first one corresponds to the number of cotyledon cells, which determines the potential seed weight as the cotyledon cell number is related to seed growth rate during seed filling. Since cell divisions take place between flowering and the beginning of seed filling, any stress occurring before the beginning of seed filling can affect individual seed growth rate (C and N reserve accumulation in seeds), and thus individual seed weights. The second factor concerns carbon and nitrogen supply to the growing seed to support reserve accumulation. Grain legume species produce protein-rich seeds involving high requirement of nitrogen. Since seed growth rate as determined by cotyledon cell number is hardly affected by photoassimilate availability during the filling period, a reduction of photosynthetic activity caused by nitrogen remobilization in leaves (e.g., remobilization of essential proteins involved in photosynthesis) can lead to shorten the duration of the filling period, and by that can provoke a limitation of individual seed weights. Accordingly, any biotic or abiotic stress during seed filling causing a decrease in photosynthetic activity should lead to a reduction of the duration of seed filling.

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