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Science 326 (5958): 1356-1357

Copyright © 2009 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Plant Science

How Plant Cells Go to Sleep for a Long, Long Time

Michael R. Sussman, and George N. Phillips, Jr.

Seeds are plant spores—desiccated, dormant cells in which metabolism and growth have been drastically slowed, so that the organism can wait out adverse conditions. This is especially important for plants, which cannot run away from environmental threats. Instead of motility, they use dormancy to outlast adversarial conditions caused by pathogens or severe weather. Indeed, some seeds remain viable for hundreds of years. On page 1373 of this issue, Nishimura et al. (1) and four other groups (25) report the initial biochemical mechanisms that allow the complex cellular machinery of this multicellular eukaryote to live for so long in a dormant state.

Biotechnology Center and the Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

E-mail: msussman{at}wisc.edu


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