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Programmed cell death during development of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. (Walp.)) seed coat

Lima, N.B.; Trindade, F.; da Cunha, M.; Oliviera, A.E.A.; Lindsey, K.; Topping, J.; Fernandes, K.V.S.


N.B. Lima

F. Trindade

M. da Cunha

A.E.A. Oliviera

K.V.S. Fernandes


The seed coat develops primarily from maternal tissues and comprises multiple cell layers at maturity, providing a metabolically dynamic interface between the developing embryo and the environment during embryogenesis, dormancy and germination of seeds. Seed coat development involves dramatic cellular changes, and the aim of this research was to investigate the role of programmed cell death (PCD) events during the development of seed coats of cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.]. We demonstrate that cells of the developing cowpea seed coats undergo a programme of autolytic cell death, detected as cellular morphological changes in nuclei, mitochondria, chloroplasts and vacuoles, DNA fragmentation and oligonucleosome accumulation in the cytoplasm, and loss of membrane viability. We show for the first time that classes 6 and 8 caspase-like enzymes are active during seed coat development, and that these activities may be compartmentalized by translocation between vacuoles and cytoplasm during PCD events.


Lima, N., Trindade, F., da Cunha, M., Oliviera, A., Lindsey, K., Topping, J., & Fernandes, K. (2015). Programmed cell death during development of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. (Walp.)) seed coat. Plant, Cell and Environment, 38(4), 718-728.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 6, 2014
Online Publication Date Oct 1, 2014
Publication Date Apr 1, 2015
Deposit Date Sep 15, 2015
Journal Plant, Cell and Environment
Print ISSN 0140-7791
Electronic ISSN 1365-3040
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 4
Pages 718-728