Pseudophoenix ekmanii is a critically endangered palm species that can be found in the southeast of the Dominican Republic. The temperatures to which P. ekmanii seeds are exposed upon dispersal range from 32 to 23 °C (max and min) and can reach a low of approximately 20 °C in January. Our aim was to analyse the effect of suboptimal (20 °C) and optimal (30 °C) germination temperature on seed imbibition, moisture content, embryo growth and gene expression patterns in this tropical palm species. Seed imbibition was tracked using whole seeds, while moisture content was assessed for individual seed sections. Embryo and whole seed size were measured before and after full imbibition. For transcriptome sequencing, mRNA was extracted from embryo tissues only and the resulting reads were mapped against the Elaeis guineensis reference genome. Differentially expressed genes were identified after statistical analysis and subsequently probed for enrichment of Gene Ontology categories ‘Biological process’ and ‘Cellular component’. Our results show that prolonged exposure to 20 °C slows whole seed and embryo imbibition and causes germination to be both delayed and inhibited. Embryonic transcriptome patterns associated with the negative regulation of germination by suboptimal temperature include up‐regulation of ABA biosynthesis genes, ABA‐responsive genes, as well as other genes previously related to physiological dormancy and inhibition of germination. Thus, our manuscript provides the first insights into the gene expression patterns involved in the response to suboptimal temperature during seed imbibition in a tropical palm species.
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