The Mechanics of Arabidopsis Seed Germination

AM Middleton, RJ Dyson, LR Band, S Grandison, DM Wells, TJ Holman, J Twycross & OE Jensen

Germination is defined as the protrusion of the embryonic radicle through the seed coat layers (endosperm and testa). As the radicle elongates, the testa ruptures, followed by rupture of the endosperm. Arabidopsis seeds exhibit a two-step germination process with sequential rupture of the testa and endosperm.

We are interested in exploring the physical process of germination. Whilst much effort has previously been placed on genetic networks, a mathematical approach for furthering the understanding of the physical/mechanical properties of germination has not yet been described.

The Mathematics in Plant Sciences Study Group helped us to develop a better understanding of the problem. Several different mathematical models were generated for radicle growth and endosperm stretching. These models were developed on multiscale dimensions – looking at the organ, tissue and cellular levels.

The outcomes of the study group have heightened our interest in the mechanical aspects of germination, and we are currently progressing with a grant proposal – a collaboration between the Schools of Biosciences and Engineering at the University of Nottingham, and a group from the Department of Biology at the University of Freiburg, Germany.

Proceedings of the Mathematics in the Plant Sciences Study Group