Cereal Husks: Versatile Roles in Grain Quality and Seedling Performance

Gideon Grafi, Jeevan R. Singiri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The seed is the fundamental unit of the dispersal of dry, dehiscent fruits, in which the fruit splits open at maturity to allow for seed dispersal. However, dry fruits may be indehiscent and therefore represent the dispersal unit (DU). Cereals possess a one-seeded fruit, whereby the seed coat and the fruit coat are fused together to generate the caryopsis. This caryopsis may be covered by floral bracts to generate two types of DUs, namely florets, whereby the caryopsis is enclosed by the lemma and the palea (e.g., Avenasterilis) or spikelet, whereby the floret(s) is further covered by the glumes (Triticum turgidum var. dicoccoides). Here, we highlight the dead coverings enclosing the caryopsis in cereals, namely the husks as an integral component of the dispersal unit that play multifaceted roles in grain biology. Thus, besides protection and dispersal means, the husks function as a rich maternal supply of proteins and metabolites for enhancing growth and development, combat potential pathogens as well as confer tolerance to abiotic stresses. These attributes might have broad implications for crop performance, plant population dynamics and diversity in ecological systems, and for conservation of genetic resources in seed banks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number172
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Allelopathy
  • Caryopsis
  • Cereal dispersal unit
  • Dead organs enclosing embryo (DOEE)
  • Ex situ conservation
  • Husk
  • Non-genetic maternal supply
  • Proteome
  • Seed banks
  • Seed germination
  • Seedling performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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