Properties of the soybean seed coat cuticle change during development.

Ranathunge, K., Shao, S., Qutob, D., Gijzen, M., Peterson, C.A., and Bernards, M.A. (2010). "Properties of the soybean seed coat cuticle change during development.", Planta, 231(5), pp. 1171-1188. doi : 10.1007/s00425-010-1118-9  Access to full text

Abstract

Whether a seed coat of a soybean (Glycine max L. Mer.) seed is permeable or non-permeable is governed by a number of quantitative trait loci further influenced by environmental factors. In soybean seeds, water loss is controlled by a thin, inconspicuous outer cuticle. When intact, the outer cuticle constitutes a barrier to water passage; however, the presence of minute cracks in the cuticle results in the ready passage of water. We explored the timing of cuticular development in soybean seeds by measuring the deposition of the cutin in relation to seed growth and cell viability. Cutin deposition occurred early in the development and ceased just prior to the final stage of rapid seed expansion. Cracks in the cuticle appeared after cutin synthesis ceased while the seed continued to grow. In permeable seeds (regardless of genotype) the resistance of the cuticle to water passage increased steadily during development until seed expansion was maximal and cracks appeared in the cuticle. Once cracks formed, they became the primary site of water passage and the cuticle lost its ability to control the process. In non-permeable seeds, no cracks appeared at this critical point and the cuticle continued to restrict water passage. Microarray analysis of gene expression during seed coat development revealed a complex transcriptome with many genes uniquely expressed in the seed coat. However, the expression patterns were remarkably similar between permeable and non-permeable types, in keeping with the complexity of the underlying genetics of seed coat permeability.