Interest in nutrient loading of seeds is fuelled by its central importance to plant reproductive success and human nutrition. Rates of nutrient loading, imported through the phloem, are regulated by transport and transfer processes located in sources (leaves, stems, reproductive structures), phloem pathway and seed sinks. During the early phases of seed development, most control is likely to be imposed by a low conductive pathway of differentiating phloem cells serving developing seeds. Following the onset of storage product accumulation by seeds, and, depending on nutrient species, dominance of path control gives way to regulation by processes located in sources (nitrogen, sulfur, minor minerals), phloem path (transition elements) or seed sinks (sugars and major mineral elements, such as potassium). Nutrients and accompanying water are imported into maternal seed tissues and unloaded from the conducting sieve elements into an extensive post-phloem symplasmic domain. Nutrients are released from this symplasmic domain into the seed apoplasm by poorly understood membrane transport mechanisms. As seed development progresses, increasing volumes of imported phloem water are recycled back to the parent plant by process(es) yet to be discovered. However, aquaporins concentrated in vascular and surrounding parenchyma cells of legume seed coats could provide a gated pathway of water movement in these tissues. Filial cells, abutting the maternal tissues, take up nutrients from the seed apoplasm by membrane proteins that include sucrose and amino acid/H + symporters functioning in parallel with non-selective cation channels. Filial demand for nutrients, that comprise the major osmotic species, is integrated with their release and phloem import by a turgor-homeostat mechanism located in maternal seed tissues. It is speculated that turgors of maternal unloading cells are sensed by the cytoskeleton and transduced by calcium signalling cascades.
Functional Plant Biology – CSIRO Publishing
Published: Apr 19, 2007
Keywords: membrane transport, nutrients, phloem transport, remobilisation, seeds, symplasmic transport.
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