Metabolic and gene expression hallmarks of seed germination uncovered by sodium butyrate in Medicago truncatula

Andrea Pagano, Susana de Sousa Araújo, Anca Macovei, Daniele Dondi, Simone Lazzaroni, Alma Balestrazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Because high-quality seeds are essential for successful crop production in challenging environments, understanding the molecular bases of seed vigour will lead to advances in seed technology. Histone deacetylase inhibitors, promoting histone hyperacetylation, are used as tools to explore aspects still uncovered of the abiotic stress response in plants. The aim of this work was to investigate novel signatures of seed germination in Medicago truncatula, using the histone deacetylase inhibitor sodium butyrate (NaB) as stress agent. NaB-treated and untreated seeds collected at 2 and 8 hr of imbibition and at the radicle protrusion stage underwent molecular phenotyping and nontargeted metabolome profiling. Quantitative enrichment analysis revealed the influence of NaB on seed nucleotide, amino acid, lipid, and carbohydrate metabolism. Up-regulation of antioxidant and polyamine biosynthesis genes occurred in response to NaB. DNA damage evidenced in NaB-treated seeds correlated with up-regulation of base-excision repair genes. Changes in N1-methyladenosine and N1-methylguanine were associated with up-regulation of MtALKBH1 (alkylation repair homolog) gene. N2,N2-dimethylguanosine and 5-methylcytidine, tRNA modifications involved in the post-transcriptional regulation of DNA damage response, were also accumulated in NaB-treated seeds at the radicle protrusion stage. The observed changes in seed metabolism can provide novel potential metabolic hallmarks of germination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-269
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • comet assay
  • DNA damage response
  • electron paramagnetic resonance
  • histone deacetylase inhibitor
  • legume seeds
  • metabolomics
  • seed germination
  • sodium butyrate


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