Reactive oxygen species (ROS) promote the germination of several seeds, and antioxidants suppress it. However, questions remain regarding the role and production mechanism of ROS in seed germination. Here, we focused on NADPH oxidases, which produce ROS. After imbibition, NADPH oxidase mRNAs were expressed in the embryo and in aleurone cells of barley seed; these expression sites were consistent with the sites of ROS production in the seed after imbibition. To clarify the role of NADPH oxidases in barley seed germination, we examined gibberellic acid (GA) / abscisic acid (ABA) metabolism and signaling in barley seeds treated with diphenylene iodonium chloride (DPI), an NADPH oxidase inhibitor. DPI significantly suppressed germination, and suppressed GA biosynthesis and ABA catabolism in embryos. GA, but not ABA, induced NADPH oxidase activity in aleurone cells. Additionally, DPI suppressed the early induction of α-amylase by GA in aleurone cells. These results suggest that ROS produced by NADPH oxidases promote GA biosynthesis in embryos, that GA induces and activates NADPH oxidases in aleurone cells, and that ROS produced by NADPH oxidases induce α-amylase in aleurone cells. We conclude that the ROS generated by NADPH oxidases regulate barley seed germination through GA / ABA metabolism and signaling in embryo and aleurone cells.
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