Dead but not dead end: Multifunctional role of dead organs enclosing embryos in seed biology

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Dry fruits consist of two types, dehiscent and indehiscent, whereby the fruit is splitting open or remains closed at maturity, respectively. The seed, the dispersal unit (DU) of dehiscent fruits, is composed of three major parts, the embryo and the food reserve, encapsulated by the maternally-derived organ, the seed coat. Indehiscent fruit constitutes the DU in which the embryo is covered by two protective layers (PLs), the seed coat and the fruit coat. In grasses, the caryopsis, a one-seeded fruit, can be further enclosed by the floral bracts to generate two types of DUs, florets and spikelets. All protective layers enclosing the embryo undergo programmed cell death (PCD) at maturation and are thought to provide mainly a physical shield for embryo protection and a means for dispersal. In this review article, I wish to highlight the elaborate function of these dead organs enclosing the embryo as unique storage structures for beneficial substances and discuss their potential role in seed biology and ecology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8024
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Dead organs enclosing embryos
  • Dispersal unit
  • Florets
  • Fruits
  • Glumes
  • Husk
  • Hydrolases
  • Nutrients
  • Pericarp
  • Phytohormones
  • Seed coat
  • Seeds
  • Spikelets
  • Storage organs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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