About this Research Topic
In higher plants, seed development is an essential process that connects two sporophytic generations. This requires the precisely coordinated growth of three components of distinct origins, namely, seed coat, embryo, and endosperm. During seed development, these three components comprise primary and secondary (specialized) metabolites, which contribute up to 90% of the seed dry weight, and also constitute the economic value of seeds in several useful plants - especially field crops. The primary metabolites include starch, triacylglycerols, and proteins, whose relative proportions vary greatly depending on the plant species. Secondary/specialized metabolites, which comprise thousands of compounds, include flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolics.
Metabolites in seeds not only serve as an important source of nutrients for humans and livestock, but also supply feedstock for various industries. They also facilitate post-germinative growth and subsequent seedling establishment, and act as signal molecules, as shown for certain sugars (e.g. sucrose and trehalose metabolism) and lipids (including oxylipins, phosphoinositides, sphingolipids), protecting the plant from abiotic and biotic stress. Given the above-mentioned importance of seed metabolites, centuries of scientific research have focused on modifying the qualitative and quantitative traits associated with seed products. Today, there is still a tremendous interest in understanding the regulatory mechanisms behind seed metabolite accumulation, and developing molecular genetic approaches (including ‘omics approaches and gene editing) to improve both the quality and quantity of seed metabolites in crops or other useful plants.
This Research Topic is devoted to the latest new insights, in the form of Reviews and Original Research articles, as well as Opinion and Perspective manuscripts covering several aspects of seed metabolites, including, but not limited to:
1) Novel analytical methods of seed metabolites: extraction, separation, purification, and detection analytical methods of metabolites from seeds; and characterization of seed metabolites. Advanced methodologies are needed to solve the big challenge of dissecting the complex trait of seed vigor. This will boost the availability of high-quality seeds for agricultural, industrial, and conservation purposes.
2) Regulatory mechanisms of seed metabolites: how plants regulate the accumulation and composition of seed metabolites; identification of potential genes involved in the seed metabolite accumulation; and correlations between primary and secondary/specialized metabolism in seeds.
3) Improvement of quality and/or quantity of seed metabolites: new breeding approaches to improve seed metabolites; effects of altered seed metabolites on seed germination and seedling establishment; and responses of altered seed metabolites to abiotic and biotic stressors.
Keywords: Seed metabolites, specialized metabolism, analytical methods, plant breeding, signal molecules, Secondary metabolism
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