Hormonal Influences on PodSeed Intercommunication during Pea Fruit Development

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Angiosperms (from the Greek angeionvessel, and spermaseed) are defined by the presence of specialised tissue surrounding their developing seeds. This tissue is known as the ovary and once a flower has been fertilised, it gives rise to the fruit. Fruits serve various functions in relation to the seeds they contain: they often form tough physical barriers to prevent mechanical damage, they may form specialised structures that aid in dispersal, and they act as a site of nutrient and signal exchange between the parent plant and its offspring. The close coordination of fruit growth and seed development is essential to successful reproduction. Firstly, fertilisation of the ovules is required in most angiosperm species to initiate fruit growth. Secondly, it is crucial that seed dispersal facilitated by, e.g., fruit opening or ripening occurs only once the seeds have matured. These highly coordinated events suggest that seeds and fruits are in close communication throughout development and represent a classical problem of interorgan signalling and organismic resource allocation. Here, we review the contribution of studies on the edible, unicarpellate legume Pisum sativum to our understanding of seed and fruit growth coregulation, and propose areas of new research in this species which may yield important advances for both pulse agronomy and natural science.