Autophagy in maternal tissues contributes to Arabidopsis seed development

Ori Avraham Erlichman, Shahar Weiss, Maria Abu Arkia, Moria Ankary-Khaner, Yoram Soroka, Weronika Jasinska, Leah Rosental, Yariv Brotman, Tamar Avin-Wittenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Seeds are an essential food source, providing nutrients for germination and early seedling growth. Degradation events in the seed and the mother plant accompany seed development, including autophagy, which facilitates cellular component breakdown in the lytic organelle. Autophagy influences various aspects of plant physiology, specifically nutrient availability and remobilization, suggesting its involvement in source–sink interactions. During seed development, autophagy affects nutrient remobilization from mother plants and functions in the embryo. However, it is impossible to distinguish between the contribution of autophagy in the source (i.e. the mother plant) and the sink tissue (i.e. the embryo) when using autophagy knockout (atg mutant) plants. To address this, we employed an approach to differentiate between autophagy in source and sink tissues. We investigated how autophagy in the maternal tissue affects seed development by performing reciprocal crosses between wild type and atg mutant Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) plants. Although F1 seedlings possessed a functional autophagy mechanism, etiolated F1 plants from maternal atg mutants displayed reduced growth. This was attributed to altered protein but not lipid accumulation in the seeds, suggesting autophagy differentially regulates carbon and nitrogen remobilization. Surprisingly, F1 seeds of maternal atg mutants exhibited faster germination, resulting from altered seed coat development. Our study emphasizes the importance of examining autophagy in a tissue-specific manner, revealing valuable insights into the interplay between different tissues during seed development. It also sheds light on the tissue-specific functions of autophagy, offering potential for research into the underlying mechanisms governing seed development and crop yield.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)611-626
Number of pages16
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2023

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© American Society of Plant Biologists 2023. All rights reserved.


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