Biotech Updates

Plants Sex Influence Offspring Seed Size and Survival

June 25, 2010

Researchers from the Universities of Bath, Exeter and the Albrecht von Haller Institute for Plant Sciences in Germany showed that male plants can influence the size of seeds of the offsprings. Model plant Arabidopsis were used to breed female plants with a variety of different male plants. The researchers found that the size of seeds produced with each pairing showed that specific strain of male plant can produce bigger seeds. Seed size was thought previously to be controlled by the mother's genes but the experiment showed that the father plant can also have an effect on seed size.

Dr. Paula Kover, Senior Lecturer at the University of Bath, explained: "Seed size can make a huge difference to whether a seedling is likely to survive, so you would imagine that there would be an optimum seed size for mothers to produce, balancing the likelihood of survival with the cost in energy of producing them. The next step will be to identify the specific genes that influence seed size."

The study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society could open new avenues to increase crop yields and improve food security for an ever-growing global human population.

The news article can be viewed at