Welcome to the Gazzarrini lab
The Gazzarrini lab uses molecular, genetic, cellular and systems biology approaches to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that regulate seed maturation and germination in response to endogenous signals and environmental cues. Seeds are rich in nutritious compounds and constitute up to 70% of our food intake, as direct consumption and animal feed. Several important processes occur during seed maturation, including the accumulation of nutritious compounds (proteins, lipids, starch), the acquisition of desiccation tolerance and the establishment of dormancy (embryo quiescence) until germination occurs. Seed maturation and the timing of germination are dependent on developmental genetic programs, which are regulated by environmental cues and endogenous stimuli to promote germination under favourable growth conditions. Proper timing of dormancy break is crucial for the plant’s life cycle, as it determines the success of the next generation, and is also important from an agronomical point of view. Seeds with shallow dormancy display pre-harvest sprouting (premature germination of seeds when still attached to the mother plant) in several crop varieties, which results in downgrading of grains. On the other hand, seeds with deep dormancy show slow germination resulting in a shorter growth season. Mechanisms regulating dormancy maintenance and break are complex, and a deeper understanding of this developmental phase change is paramount.