High temperature during grain filling considerably reduces yield and quality in rice (Oryza sativa L.); however, how high temperature affects seed germination of the next generation is not yet well understood. Here, we report that seeds from plants exposed to high temperature during the grain filling stage germinated significantly later than seeds from unstressed plants. This delay remained even after dormancy release treatments, suggesting that it was not due to primary seed dormancy determined during grain filling. In imbibed embryos of heat-stressed seeds, expression of abscisic acid (ABA) biosynthesis genes (OsNCEDs) was higher than in those of control seeds, whereas that of ABA catabolism genes (OsABA8′OHs) was lower. In the aleurone layer, despite no change in GA signaling as evidenced by no effect of heat stress on OsGAMYB gene expression, the transcripts of α-amylase genes OsAmy1C, OsAmy3B, and OsAmy3E were significantly down-regulated in heat-stressed seeds in comparison with controls. Changes in promoter methylation levels were consistent with transcriptional changes of ABA catabolism-related and α-amylase genes. These data suggest that high temperature during grain filling results in DNA methylation of ABA catabolism-related and α-amylase gene promoters, delaying germination of heat-stressed seeds.
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