Welcome to the Gazzarrini lab
The Gazzarrini lab employs molecular, genetic, cellular and systems biology approaches to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that regulate seed development 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 development, 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 agronomic point of view as it can greatly affect seed yield. 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 longer growth season. Lastly, environmental stress can trigger seed abortion, which can lead to large food and economic losses. Therefore, a thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating seed development and germination is paramount.