Proanthocyanidins in Cereals and Brassicaceae: A Cross-Species Approach on their Roles for Seed-Coat Biophysical Properties, Dormancy and Germination

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Name: Biological Sciences

Abstract

Seeds are at the beginning and end of the life cycle of all higher plants. Many wild species show a high degree of dormancy that prevents seeds from germinating immediately after shedding, and delays germination until more favourable conditions for plant growth are encountered. Domestication of crop plants from such wild species has often resulted in significant loss of dormancy as prehistoric farmers selected in favour of seeds with rapid germination. However, some degree of dormancy is an important quality trait in many crops, as it prevents seeds from germinating prematurely while still attached to the mother plant. This is a serious problem in cereals such as bread wheat, because wet weather near harvest time can cause seeds to germinate within the ear ("pre-harvest sprouting"). This causes release of enzymes that partially degrade of the starch (flour) and thereby impacts negatively on bread-making quality. Sprout-induced seeds produce so much enzyme that a small proportion of such grains within a crop can result in the entire harvest being suitable only as animal feed, with consequent economic loss to the farmer.

Thus, too little dormancy can result in pre-harvest sprouting, while too much dormancy may lead to non-uniform germination in the field. This is important for high-quality seeds also of broadleaf crop species from the cabbage family (Brassicaceae). The speed and uniformity of germination of crop seeds after sowing is an equally important seed quality trait and together with dormancy directly affects crop production. Clearly, an understanding of the processes that determine the level of dormancy and the speed of germination are essential to enable us to design and breed new varieties of crop plants which perform well even in stressful environments (under climate change). One clear contributory factor in many species is the seed coat, damage to which or removal can result in complete loss of dormancy and in faster germination. This appears to be associated with the presence of reddish-brown tannins in the seed coat; the importance of these seed coat tannins is clear from plants that have lost the ability to make the compounds, resulting in pale-coloured seeds with lower levels of dormancy and faster germination. For example, white-grained wheat is much more prone to pre-harvest sprouting than a red-grained variety and is therefore difficult to grow successfully in the wet UK climate. White-grained wheat has several advantages over red-grained types, including a higher yield of white flour and the production of "white wholemeal" with the taste of white bread but the fibre and nutrient properties of normal red wholemeal.

There are several ways in which the tannins in the seed coat could affect dormancy and germination: they may increase the physical strength of the coat to prevent germination, they may affect the permeability of the coat to water, hormones or oxygen, which are required for germination, or precursors or metabolites of the tannins might directly suppress seed germination. These different hypotheses have not previously been directly tested, but our collaborative team has developed the materials and the methods through which we can examine each in turn. We plan to look at two species, cress and wheat, as models for eudicot (broadleaf) and monocot (cereal) species, respectively. We have developed varieties of both species that are impaired in the late steps in tannin production in the seed coat, so that we can examine the effects on tannins for seed coat properties, on dormancy and the speed of germination. At the same time we have pioneered methods for measuring the strength, extensibility and permeability of the isolated seed coats. We will relate these properties to the interaction with environmental factors such as temperature, to provide a comprehensive understanding of the roles of tannins in coat-imposed dormancy and germination speed of seeds.

Technical Summary

The aim of this project is to determine the mechanisms by which condensed tannins, or proanthocyanidins (PAs), present in the seed coat of many plant species determine coat-imposed seed dormancy as well as the speed and uniformity of seed germination. PAs are polymerised flavan-3-ols that are synthesized from flavonoid precursors in the integument, a maternal tissue which on maturation and cell death becomes the testa, or true seed coat. There are a number of hypotheses to explain the mechanisms through which PAs promote seed dormancy and inhibit germination. These include possible roles in determining the biophysical properties of the testa, including its mechanical strength/resistance and permeability to oxygen or plant hormones, and also the possibility that mobile PA precursors or metabolites may directly suppress embryo germination upon imbibition.

In previous projects we have developed materials and techniques that will allow us to directly test these various hypotheses in an eudicot and a monocot species. These include mutant and trangenic lines of cress (Lepidum sativum) and wheat (Triticum aestivum) with complete or partial lesions in the later steps of PA biosynthesis and also methods to directly measure puncture force, extensibility and permeability of the testa and other outer seed layers of our target species. These methods require a suitably large seed size which is met by the species under study and we have verified the feasibility of our techniques. In addition, we propose to investigate the processes in seed maturation during which PAs assembled in the vacuoles of integument cells become associated with the cell wall, and how this results in changes to its biophysical properties. We further propose to investigate how the PA-related biophysical properties are altered at different ambient temperatures during seed imbibition and how this affects embryo growth, coat dormancy and germination speed and uniformity.

Planned Impact

Our research will not only generate new and deep scientific insight and fundamental advancements of academic interest, and will be published in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals, it also has direct relevance to applied scientists and organizations including the crop breeding and seed industries. Broadleaf crop seeds (eudicots including Brassica crops, vegetables, spicy sprouts (cress), sugarbeet) and cereal grains (monocots including wheat and barley) are the beginning and the end of all important food supply chains. High-quality seeds are fundamental for the global seed industry with ca. $40 billion annual turnover. Germination and dormancy are key traits for crop plants, as they determine establishment in the field and the quality of the harvested product. Germination and dormancy are fundamental for adaptation mechanisms to changing environments, e.g. early stages in plant life-history and plant reproduction are especially vulnerable to abiotic stresses such as temperature extremes (climate change) and threaten food security. Pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) of cereals crops is a major problem in many parts of the world, with wet weather before harvest resulting in premature germination of grain and severe losses (ca. $1 billion annually) in crop quality and economic value.

The group of Prof. Gerhard Leubner (GL) has not only a strong track record in basic research, but also in applied projects in cooperation with seed industry, while Andy Phillips's (AP) laboratory has good relations with wheat breeders and has been involved in several projects with a strong commercial focus. Our results in this project are relevant for moving beyond to crops and for transfer of knowledge and techniques to seed industry, e.g. for coat-dormancy and seed technology (priming/pelleting/coating). Our current projects with seed industry include sugarbeet seed technology and Dr Tina Steinbrecher (TS) as a biomechanical engineer leads a project on the biomechanics of wheat grain milling. A collaboration application in the UK Agri-Tech Catalyst programme on vegetable seed priming is together with Germains Seed Technology (Norfolk, UK). This interaction with the seed industry will lead to fostering global economic performance and especially to enhanced economic competiveness of the UK seed industry.

The central scientific objective of our project is to provide fundamentally novel and comprehensive insight into the molecular mechanisms how proanthocyanidins (PAs) in the seed coats of a eudicot (cress) and a monocot (wheat) model match local demands (such as temperature) for seed germination timing. Dissemination pathways for this include applied seed conferences. GL was chairman/lead speaker at the tri-annual 29th ISTA (International Seed Testing Association) Congress 2010 in Cologne, Germany. ISTA sets seed testing rules and includes government bodies and institutes as members. AP and AH both presented work at the most recent International Symposium on PHS in Red Deer, Canada. GL is also the curator of The Seed Biology Place website (www.seedbiology.eu) which is internationally among the top-10 visited websites (ca. 700 visits/month) disseminating information about seed biology for research and education purposes. Seeds are fascinating and therefore have the potential to get the public interested in plants. To address the wider public we will actively contribute with talks, posters, and seed exhibitions/displays to outreach events at RHUL, RRes and UK botanical gardens. Seed biology will be fostered as a new focus at RHUL and in addition to teaching our outreach activities aim on attracting new students. The research assistants in our collaboration project will gain experience in interaction and communication across disciplines. Training and expertise in different techniques, including next-generation-sequencing and biophysical technologies, are needed in the seed technology industry, and will be delivered by this project.
 
Description The interdisciplinary work combined biomechanics engineering with molecular seed physiology. Much of the project output has already been published in Open Access journals. The publication by Leubner-Metzger G (2017) "Improving crop seed quality and seedling performance." in IMPACT 7:81-83. Science Impact Ltd, Bristol, UK - www.impact.pub summarises the work and its importance: The Group for Seed Biology and Engineering at the Royal Holloway University of London is conducting world-leading seed and biotechnology research and unearthing important discoveries in the field of seed germination and technology. Leubner's Group is focused on improving crop seed quality and seedling performance, which the researchers are achieving through fundamental and applied research using multidisciplinary approaches, a highly collaborative approach and state-of-the-art equipment and novel methodologies. 'High quality of commercial seed is achieved by a combination of breeding and innovative seed technologies. Seed enhancement technologies such as priming, improve vegetable, flower and sugarbeet seed performance. This leads to rapid germination, enhanced vigour and uniform seedling establishment even upon abiotic stress,' he states. 'Seed treatment technologies refine the seed with added values including coatings and pellets. The pellets aid drilling and may contain additives such as fertilisers and crop protection chemicals and biologicals such as plant hormones, allelochemicals and beneficial microbes.' According to Leubner, high seed quality achieved by breeding and seed technology is the cornerstone for maximum yield potential. Seed priming, which is applied by the seed industry to sugarbeet, flower
and vegetable commercial seeds to remove dormancy, enhance germination speed, and to improve seedling uniformity and performance even upon stress, is one modern seed technology used to enhance seed quality. 'While seed priming is positive in improving these seed properties and thereby performance in the field, it is on the other hand connected with additional costs, often compromises seed storability and over-priming can lead to problems in seedling establishment,' Leubner explains. 'The global seed market is characterised by competition between companies based on selling the best seed quality for their customers. Seed companies are therefore interested in further improving their crop-specific seed priming protocols. This requires understanding the underpinning mechanisms.
The key objectives of the Group's research are to: understand the underpinning mechanisms of seed vigour to improve seed germination, seedling uniformity and establishment in stressful environments; prevent seed vigour loss and ageing during post-harvest seed storage; develop novel assays for quantifying seed vigour and to enable breeding increased seed vigour and longevity; improve the biomechanical and biochemical properties of natural (endosperm, seed and fruit coats) and artificial (pellets) seed covering layers; and further improve the seed priming technology with novel environmentally friendly methods and additives.
The findings contribute to a REF Impact Case by Leubner & Steinbrecher.
Exploitation Route We actively contributed with talks, posters, and seed exhibitions and displays at the Science Open Day at RHUL (part of UK Science Week) and at Open Meetings for the Public at RRes, these events together attract several thousand visitors. Direct economic impact comes from the interest of the seed industry in our seed research. We received interest from different companies to work with us. We also acquired iCASE PhD studentships based on the awarded projects together with industry.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment

URL http://www.seedbiology.eu
 
Description Will be used for better crop varieties adapted to climate change. Project has formally ended end 2018. Project has resulted or contributed to additional collaborations and funding awards: 1) iCASE studentship on vegetable seed quality with Tozer Seeds. 2) RSF pump funding at RHUL to start a collaboration with Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and Tozer Seeds on rocket seed aging in space. A report on this has been published by the RHS and reaches Schools and the general public. This will trigger interest in food/plant security. 3) MSc studentship on morphological dormancy of Apiaceae vegetable seeds 4) ISCF AgriTech project with Tozer Seeds on vegetable seed quality 5) SRXTM beamtime award at Swiss Lightsource 6) iCASE studentship on beneficial microbes in seed pellets with the company Croda/Incotec. The interdisciplinary work combined biomechanics engineering with molecular seed physiology. Much of the project output has already been published in Open Access journals. The publication by Leubner-Metzger G (2017) "Improving crop seed quality and seedling performance." in IMPACT 7:81-83. Science Impact Ltd, Bristol, UK - www.impact.pub summarises the work and its importance: The Group for Seed Biology and Engineering at the Royal Holloway University of London is conducting world-leading seed and biotechnology research and unearthing important discoveries in the field of seed germination and technology. Leubner's Group is focused on improving crop seed quality and seedling performance, which the researchers are achieving through fundamental and applied research using multidisciplinary approaches, a highly collaborative approach and state-of-the-art equipment and novel methodologies. 'High quality of commercial seed is achieved by a combination of breeding and innovative seed technologies. Seed enhancement technologies such as priming, improve vegetable, flower and sugarbeet seed performance. This leads to rapid germination, enhanced vigour and uniform seedling establishment even upon abiotic stress,' he states. 'Seed treatment technologies refine the seed with added values including coatings and pellets. The pellets aid drilling and may contain additives such as fertilisers and crop protection chemicals and biologicals such as plant hormones, allelochemicals and beneficial microbes.' According to Leubner, high seed quality achieved by breeding and seed technology is the cornerstone for maximum yield potential. Seed priming, which is applied by the seed industry to sugarbeet, flower and vegetable commercial seeds to remove dormancy, enhance germination speed, and to improve seedling uniformity and performance even upon stress, is one modern seed technology used to enhance seed quality. 'While seed priming is positive in improving these seed properties and thereby performance in the field, it is on the other hand connected with additional costs, often compromises seed storability and over-priming can lead to problems in seedling establishment,' Leubner explains. 'The global seed market is characterised by competition between companies based on selling the best seed quality for their customers. Seed companies are therefore interested in further improving their crop-specific seed priming protocols. This requires understanding the underpinning mechanisms. This is relevant to the REF2021 Impact Case Study by Steinbrecher & Leubner "Improving Crop Seed Quality through refinement technologies": The impact of Leubner and Steinbrecher´s research has derived from innovative environmental-friendly seed technologies that enhance and refine quality, storability and ageing resilience of crop seeds. High-quality seed is essential for enhanced seedling performance even upon environmental stress and consequently for yield and food supply chain resilience. The beneficiaries are national (e.g. Elsoms & Tozer) and international (e.g. KWS) seed production companies, as well as farmers, consumers, gardeners, and policy makers. The Pan-European Rocket Science initiative has highlighted the necessity to improve seed quality for extra-terrestrial cultivation as an approach to tackling climate emergency and has inspired the next generation.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Rocket Science Project Report of the Horticultural Society (RHS) - Rocket Science - Our Voyage of Discovery
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Rocket Science Project Report of the Horticultural Society (RHS) "Rocket Science - Our Voyage of Discovery" - The RHS report contains our research contribution (p. 23) and interview with me and our collaborator from Tozer Seeds. It reaches >600,000 pupils at UK Schools to excite them about STEM, plants and food security. Our contributions are also detailed in "How to grow a successful space salad - with help from Tim Peake!" - https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/aboutus/newsandevents/news/2016-articles/how-to-grow-a-successful-space-salad-with-help-from-tim-peake.aspx Further to this I was a speaker on this topic on the 12th Triennial International Society for Seed Science (ISSS) conference in Monterey, California, July 2017
URL https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/getmedia/a3385b8e-0eaf-4953-8d90-bc163ff0f982/Final-Rocket-Scienc...
 
Description Imbibitional Seed Ingression Project with Gd
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Azotic Technologies 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2016 
End 06/2017
 
Description Innovative oxygen- and epigenetics-related assays and marker for Allium seed quality
Amount £420,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/R021147/1 & TSB132858 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 03/2019
 
Description Mechanisms of celery morphological dormancy, longevity and quality (iCASE PhD studentship Matthew Walker) - http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/projects?ref=studentship-1813810
Amount £109,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/R505730/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 09/2020
 
Description Morphological Dormancy and Germination of Apiaceae species - MSc Project Blythe Soper
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Holloway, University of London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 09/2019
 
Description Physiological and molecular mechanisms of Lepidium sativum seed longevity and vigour - MSc Bliss Buttery
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Holloway, University of London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2017
 
Description Rocket Science
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Holloway, University of London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 10/2017
 
Description Understanding the Food Chain of Teff (Eragostis tef) and the Application of Seed Technology in Teff Farming in Ethiopia - Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Networking
Amount £21,767 (GBP)
Funding ID GCRFNGR4\1116 
Organisation Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2019 
End 09/2020
 
Title Biological samples of seeds for hormone, transcriptome and RT-qPCR 
Description Biological samples of seeds for hormone, transcriptome and RT-qPCR 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Improved seed hormone and transcriptome analyses as described in various of our publications 
 
Title Lepidium sativum seed transcriptomes 
Description Unpublished (will be published 2019) and published in connection with Scheler et al. 2015 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Enables understanding seed responses to abiotic stresses and to seed raging; impact on seed industry and on mitigating climate change. 
 
Title Vegetable seed aging transcriptomes 
Description Ageing of vegetables seeds during storage is compared on the transcriptome level. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Improves concepts for vegetable seed storage to prevent or reduce seed aging. 
 
Description Allium Seed Quality Research with Tozer Seeds Cobham, Surrey, UK 
Organisation Tozer Seeds
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Innovation Voucher Allium research on seed ageing and quality of salad onions and leek.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of defined seed batches.
Impact Preliminary results on Allium seed quality were used for an AgriTech Catalyst application. This is now a funded project in collaboration with Tozer Seeds: ISCF WAVE1 AGRI TECH (Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund) BB/R021147/1 & TSB132858, 01.2018-03.2919
Start Year 2015
 
Description Bioinformatics of wild and crop species seed transcriptomes 
Organisation Philipp University of Marburg
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Seed experiment conduction, RNA extractions, RNAseq sequencing via service provider, DEG identification and follow-up work.
Collaborator Contribution Bioinformatics of RNAseq sequencing raw data via service provider, DEG identification.
Impact Interdisciplinary
Start Year 2018
 
Description Controls on seed germination and dormancy: is variation in seed coat flavonoids linked to physical changes in seed coat structure? 
Organisation Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Department of Earth Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Conduct comparative 3D seed imaging using SRXTM at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. This is based on a competitive application to get beam time. The cross-departmental (Biological and Earth Science at RHUL) SRXTM group is Dr Tina Steinbrecher, Professor Margaret Collinson and I. Top my best knowledge the 3-day beam time we got awarded is worth at least the amount I typed in (we did not get any money, just beam time). Second project was also successfully completed.
Collaborator Contribution Conduct comparative 3D seed imaging using SRXTM at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. This is based on a competitive application to get beam time. The cross-departmental (Biological and Earth Science at RHUL) SRXTM group is Dr Tina Steinbrecher, Professor Margaret Collinson and I. Top my best knowledge the 3-day beam time we got awarded is worth at least the amount I typed in (we did not get any money, just beam time). Second project was also successfully completed.
Impact 3D images of Lepidium, Aethionema and sugar beet seeds
Start Year 2016
 
Description Food Security and Sustainability 
Organisation Royal Holloway, University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Interdisciplinary collaboration with Dr Ivica Petrikova, lecturer in food security in the PIR department.
Collaborator Contribution Interdisciplinary collaboration with Dr Ivica Petrikova, lecturer in food security in the PIR department.
Impact Interdisciplinary: Biology, Biomaterial Engineering, Politics and International Relations
Start Year 2018
 
Description Fruit Evolution and Adaptation to Mediterranean Habitats in Raphanus (Brassicaceae) 
Organisation University of Osnabrück
Department School of Biology/Chemistry Osnabrück
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration between Dr Tins Steinbrecher, myself and the lead of this project Prof Klaus Mummenhoff (University of Osnabrück, Germany). This is a trinational collaboration funding project between Prof Klaus Mummenhoff (University of Osnabrück, Germany), O. Barazan (Agricultural Research Organization, Israel), Jotham Ziffer-Berger (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel), Thameen Hijawi (Al Quds University, Palestinian Authority), Nasser Samara (Association for Integrated Rural Development, Palestinian Authority)
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration between Dr Tins Steinbrecher, myself and the lead of this project Prof Klaus Mummenhoff (University of Osnabrück, Germany). This is a trinational collaboration funding project between Prof Klaus Mummenhoff (University of Osnabrück, Germany), O. Barazan (Agricultural Research Organization, Israel), Jotham Ziffer-Berger (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel), Thameen Hijawi (Al Quds University, Palestinian Authority), Nasser Samara (Association for Integrated Rural Development, Palestinian Authority)
Impact Interdisciplinary collaboration
Start Year 2017
 
Description Proanthocyandins in Cereals and Brassicaceae Consortium 
Organisation Rothamsted Research
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Both partners have a BBSRC grant on this topic and actively collaborate. Prof G Leubner is the lead PI. Project end is December 2018.
Collaborator Contribution Both partners have a BBSRC grant on this topic and actively collaborate. Prof G Leubner is the lead PI. Project end is December 2018.
Impact Research ongoing, several publications, multidisciplinary especially with bridging molecular seed physiology and biophysical engineering.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Rocket Science Project Report of the Horticultural Society (RHS) "Rocket Science - Our Voyage of Discovery" 
Organisation Royal Horticultural Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Rocket Science Project Report of the Horticultural Society (RHS) "Rocket Science - Our Voyage of Discovery" - The RHS report contains our research contribution (p. 23) and interview with me and our collaborator from Tozer Seeds. It reaches >600,000 pupils at UK Schools to excite them about STEM, plants and food security. Our contributions are also detailed in "How to grow a successful space salad - with help from Tim Peake!" - https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/aboutus/newsandevents/news/2016-articles/how-to-grow-a-successful-space-salad-with-help-from-tim-peake.aspx
Collaborator Contribution Link to Report PDF: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/getmedia/a3385b8e-0eaf-4953-8d90-bc163ff0f982/Final-Rocket-Science-Report-Low-Res
Impact https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/getmedia/a3385b8e-0eaf-4953-8d90-bc163ff0f982/Final-Rocket-Science-Report-Low-Res
Start Year 2017
 
Description Seed biomaterial research 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Seed biomechanics research with different methods.
Collaborator Contribution Seed biomechanics nanoindentation.
Impact Ongoing
Start Year 2009
 
Description Seed hormone profiling 
Organisation Palacky University
Country Czech Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Preparation of seed samples for hormone profiling.
Collaborator Contribution Hormone profiling analytics conducted and results received. Placements for PhD students and postdocs.
Impact Publications and ongoing future work for publications.
Start Year 2007
 
Description Seed-Microbe interactions 
Organisation University of Osnabrück
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative research into the mechanisms of pericarp-conferred seed dormancy release by microbes in Lepidium. Mainly the biomechanics, microscopy and seed-microbe work.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research into the mechanisms of pericarp-conferred seed dormancy release by microbes in Lepidium. Mainly the biomechanics, microscopy and seed-microbe work.
Impact A novel mechanism of pericarp-conferred seed dormancy release by microbes. Publication in Nature Communications (2017) by Sperber/Steinbrecher (shared first authors) and Leubner-Metzger/Mummenhoff (shared corresponding authors)
Start Year 2015
 
Description Weed and crop seed research collaboration with Ethiopia 
Organisation Debre Berhan University
Country Ethiopia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research collaboration on weed management and on crop seed technologies. Establishing network for GCRF collaboration applications.
Collaborator Contribution Research collaboration on weed management and on crop seed technologies. Establishing network for GCRF collaboration applications.
Impact Manuscript submitted on Lepidium draba weed science.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Fascination of Plants Day 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Seed germination setup with different crop seeds to inspire the children about plant science and gardening. Exhibition of seed diversity in structures, sizes, shapes and colours and a seed-plant quiz for the same purpose.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Press release - New breakthrough could help gardeners achieve seed sowing success 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact New breakthrough could help gardeners achieve seed sowing success. Press announcement December beginning 2017 for Nature Communications article.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://phys.org/news/2017-12-breakthrough-gardeners-seed-success.html
 
Description Rocket Science Project Report - Rocket Science - Our Voyage of Discovery 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Rocket Science Project Report "Rocket Science - Our Voyage of Discovery" Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), contributions and interview, as also detailed in "How to grow a successful space salad - with help from Tim Peake!" - https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/aboutus/newsandevents/news/2016-articles/how-to-grow-a-successful-space-salad-with-help-from-tim-peake.aspx
https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/getmedia/a3385b8e-0eaf-4953-8d90-bc163ff0f982/Final-Rocket-Science-Report-Low-Res
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/aboutus/newsandevents/news/2016-articles/how-to-grow-a-successful-sp...
 
Description Rocket Science Project Report Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), contributions and interview, as also detailed in "How to grow a successful space salad - with help from Tim Peake!" - https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/aboutus/newsandevents/news/2016-articles/how-to-grow-a-successful-space-salad-with-help-from-tim-peake.aspx 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact See the RHS Campaign for School Gardening at with the Rocket Science Experiment Overview at
https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/Competitions/Rocket-Science-Experiment-Overview
Our involvement was to conduct rocket science research in collaboration with RHS (ongoing) and to contribute to the RHS rocket science report which was launched by Tim Peake in a PR event in Portsmouth 2016. Also, G Leubner (RHUL) and F Gawthrop (Tozer Seeds) were two of the 4 experts who answered seeds/food in space questions in the report (reaching 600,000 pupils). The RHS undertakes scientific research to underpin horticultural advice provided on the charity's website (1.3 million unique users per month) and to its 450,000 members. It curates four publicly accessible gardens which attract 1.8 million visitors each year. Organises horticultural shows throughout the UK to showcase horticultural excellence.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/Competitions/Rocket-Science-Experiment-Overview
 
Description Science Open Day at Royal Holloway University of London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Seed germination setup with different crop seeds to inspire the children about plant science and gardening. Exhibition of seed diversity in structures, sizes, shapes and colours and a seed-plant quiz for the same purpose.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017,2018,2019
URL http://www.rhul.ac.uk
 
Description The Seed Biology Place - www.seedbiology.eu 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Our research, teaching and outreach website "The Seed Biology Place" - www.seedbiology.eu is internationally acknowledged and one of the most visited seed biology websites. It provides up-to-date information about seed dormancy and germination and the research of our group, as well as informs on seed anatomy, technology (seed industry), seed evolution and current topics in molecular seed biology and biotechnology. It is recommended by NetWatch of the Science Magazine (Science 313: 595, 2006) and by WebAlert (Current Opinion in Plant Biology 5: 371, 2002) as an information resource for research and teaching. The website has >900 visits / month and is usually among the top-10 hits in seed-related Goggle searches.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018
URL http://www.seedbiology.eu