The dead can nurture: Novel insights into the function of dead organs enclosing embryos

Buzi Raviv, James Godwin, Gila Granot, Gideon Grafi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Plants have evolved a variety of dispersal units whereby the embryo is enclosed by various dead protective layers derived from maternal organs of the reproductive system including seed coats (integuments), pericarps (ovary wall, e.g., indehiscent dry fruits) as well as floral bracts (e.g., glumes) in grasses. Commonly, dead organs enclosing embryos (DOEEs) are assumed to provide a physical shield for embryo protection and means for dispersal in the ecosystem. In this review article, we highlight recent studies showing that DOEEs of various species across families also have the capability for long-term storage of various substances including active proteins (hydrolases and ROS detoxifying enzymes), nutrients and metabolites that have the potential to support the embryo during storage in the soil and assist in germination and seedling establishment. We discuss a possible role for DOEEs as natural coatings capable of “engineering” the seed microenvironment for the benefit of the embryo, the seedling and the growing plant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2455
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - 19 Aug 2018


  • Cell wall modification
  • Dead organs enclosing embryos (DOEE)
  • Glumes
  • Hydrolases
  • Lemmas
  • Long-term storage
  • Paleas
  • Pericarps
  • ROS detoxification
  • Seed coats
  • Seed germination
  • Seed longevity
  • Seed microenvironment
  • Seedling vigor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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