Aerosol smoke and smoke-water can break dormancy and promote seed germination of many plant species. In this study we investigated changes in gene expression after imbibition of light-sensitive Lactuca sativa L. cv. ‘Grand Rapids’ achenes with dilute smoke-water compared to water control samples kept in the dark or continuous light, using the fluorescent differential display technique. Although no difference was detected in the smoke-water versus water control samples germinated in light, smoke-water treatment resulted in the differential display of several expressed sequence tags (ESTs) when compared to water control samples kept in the dark. The most pronounced fragments isolated correspond to known genes related to germination, with functions in cell wall expansion, regulation of translation, the cell division cycle, carbohydrate metabolism and abscisic acid (ABA) regulation. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) validation revealed that the transcript abundance of the genes, HVA22, short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase and late embryogenesis abundant protein, are upregulated after smoke treatment when compared to control achenes kept in the light. The results indicate that smoke has a dual effect. On the one hand, the smoke can induce genes that may be linked to ABA action, whereas, on the other hand, it elicits a faster germination rate by inducing a similar pattern in gene expression as light treatment. Smoke effects could be manifested mainly through the induction of the cell division cycle, cell wall extension and storage mobilization.
Seed Science Research (2009) 19:37-49 [doi: 10.1017/S0960258508187815]