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Plant Physiol. 2020 Feb 14. pii: pp.00043.2020. doi: 10.1104/pp.20.00043. [Epub ahead of print]

Embryonic photosynthesis affects post-germination plant growth.

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University of Geneva CITY: Geneva Switzerland [CH].
Department of Biology, Plant Biology, University of Fribourg CITY: Fribourg POSTAL_CODE: 1700 Switzerland [CH].
CNRS/CEA Grenoble CITY: Grenoble France [FR].
University of Geneva CITY: Geneva POSTAL_CODE: 1211 Switzerland [CH]


Photosynthesis is the fundamental process fuelling plant vegetative growth and development. The progeny of plants rely on maternal photosynthesis, via food reserves in the seed, to supply the necessary energy for seed germination and early seedling establishment. Intriguingly, prior to seed maturation, Arabidopsis thaliana embryos are also photosynthetically active, the biological significance of which remains poorly understood. Investigating this system is genetically challenging since mutations perturbing photosynthesis are expected to affect both embryonic and vegetative tissues. Here, we isolated a temperature-sensitive mutation affecting CPN60α2, which encodes a subunit of the chloroplast chaperonin complex CPN60. When exposed to cold temperatures, cpn60α2 mutants accumulate less chlorophyll in newly produced tissues, thus allowing the specific disturbance of embryonic photosynthesis. Analyses of cpn60α2 mutants were combined with independent genetic and pharmacological approaches to show that embryonic photosynthetic activity is necessary for normal skoto- and photomorphogenesis in juvenile seedlings as well as long-term adult plant development. Our results reveal the importance of embryonic photosynthetic activity for normal adult plant growth, development, and health.

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