Humans arenât the only life forms that pass down information from one generation down to the next. Plants also pass down information to their seed offspring. They imprint information about when to germinate into their seedsâ genes. Seeds donât germinate immediately after they developâfirst, they spend some time in a dormant state.
That period of dormancy is helpful for a couple of reasons. First, it lets the seeds wait to germinate until the temperature is right. After all, you wouldnât want a seed germinating when itâs too cold, or it wouldnât survive.
Second, it prevents all the seeds from germinating at once, in the same place, and competing for the same resources. One of the factors that affects how long that period of dormancy lasts is the temperature during the seedsâ development; the colder it is during those early stages, the longer the seedâs state of dormancy will be.
That information is imprinted by the mother plant in the seedsâ genesâessentially turning certain genes off that regulate germination. When the time is finally right for the seed to germinate, that information gets erased. That way, when that offspring plant makes its own seeds, it can imprint new information for the next generation.
Sources and Further Reading
- Iwasaki, M., et al. (2019). Non-canonical RNA-directed DNA methylation participates in maternal and environmental control of seed dormancy. Research Advance.