Biotech Updates

Novel Gene that Controls Seed Size Found

November 6, 2009

Scientists at the University of Freiberg in Germany and the John Innes Center in the UK said they have pinpointed a gene in the model plant Arabidopsis that is responsible for controlling overall seed size. The scientists believe that manipulating this gene could lead to ways of improving crops.

Michael Lenhard and colleagues found that cytochrome P450 KLUH (KLU) gene regulates seed size. The gene, expressed in the inner integument of developing ovules, produces an as yet unidentified mobile growth signal that determines final seed size. If the gene is turned off, smaller seeds are produced. Over-expression of KLU, on the other hand, results to larger seeds with higher oil content. According to the researchers this is the first time such a reciprocal effect on seed size has been observed, and points to the fundamental importance of this gene in plant development. They are now studying the effects of modifying this gene in oilseed rape.

The paper published by PNAS is available at For more information, read