A VEL3 histone deacetylase complex establishes a maternal epigenetic state controlling progeny seed dormancy.
Mother plants play an important role in the control of dormancy and dispersal characters of their progeny. In Arabidopsis seed dormancy is imposed by the embryo-surrounding tissues of the endosperm and seed coat. Here we show that VERNALIZATION5/VIN3-LIKE 3 (VEL3) maintains maternal control over progeny seed dormancy by establishing an epigenetic state in the central cell that primes the depth of primary seed dormancy later established during seed maturation. VEL3 colocalises with MSI1 in the nucleolus and associates with a histone deacetylase complex. Furthermore, VEL3 preferentially associates with pericentromeric chromatin and is required for deacetylation and H3K27me3 deposition established in the central cell. The epigenetic state established by maternal VEL3 is retained in mature seeds, and controls seed dormancy in part through repression of programmed cell death-associated gene ORE1. Our data demonstrates a mechanism by which maternal control of progeny seed physiology persists post-shedding, maintaining parental control of seed behaviour.