Dual role of reactive oxygen species in seed physiology (Review)

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are considered to be detrimental to seed viability. However, recent studies have demonstrated that ROS have key roles in seed germination particularly in the release of seed dormancy and embryogenesis, as well as in protection from pathogens.

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are considered to be detrimental to seed viability. However, recent studies have demonstrated that ROS have key roles in seed germination particularly in the release of seed dormancy and embryogenesis, as well as in protection from pathogens.

Signalling role of H2O2 in the seed germination process
Signalling role of H2O2 in the seed germination process. Image from Jeevan Kumar et al.

Jeevan Kumar et al. review the dual functions of ROS in seed physiology, and consider that a greater understanding of the functions of ROS in the processes that determine seed longevity and seed ageing is required because seed deterioration may be caused by pathways other than the accumulation of oxidative damage that lead to programmed cell death. Conversely, the beneficial effects of ROS have generated increasing interest because of their functions in the regulation of cellular redox state, and their putative roles in the control of seed dormancy, seed germination and in mediating phytohormone cross-talk.

This article appears in the special issue ROS and NO Reactions in Plants.