Seed priming is a commercially used technique for improving seed performance including germination. However, the treatment sometimes reduces seed longevity as a side effect, limiting the storable period or longevity of the seeds. To overcome this problem, molecular mechanisms involved in the loss of seed longevity during priming were analyzed using natural variations of Arabidopsis thaliana. We found that the Est-1 accession retained longevity for longer after priming compared to the reference accession Col-0. QTL analysis using 279 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) derived from the Est-1 × Col-0 detected three QTL regions associated with the loss of seed longevity during priming. Bulked transcriptome analysis (RNA-Seq with bulked RIL populations) revealed that genes related to brassinosteroid (BR) biosynthesis/signaling and cell wall modification were highly expressed in primed seeds with shorter longevity. After priming, BR-deficient mutants cyp85a1/a2 and det2 showed significantly longer longevity than the wild type (WT). Moreover, tetrazolium staining indicated that mutant seed coats were less permeable after priming than those of WT. We suggest that the loss of seed longevity in primed seed is due to increased seed coat permeability, which is positively regulated, at least partly, via BR signaling.
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