The embryos of some angiosperms (usually referred to as chloroembryos) contain chlorophylls during the whole period of embryogenesis. Developing embryos have photochemically active chloroplasts and are able to produce assimilates, further converted in reserve biopolymers, whereas at the late steps of embryogenesis, seeds undergo dehydration, degradation of chlorophylls, transformation of chloroplast in storage plastids, and enter the dormancy period. However, in some seeds, the process of chlorophyll degradation remains incomplete. These residual chlorophylls compromise the quality of seed material in terms of viability, nutritional value, and shelf life, and represent a serious challenge for breeders and farmers. The mechanisms of chlorophyll degradation during seed maturation are still not completely understood, and only during the recent decades the main pathways and corresponding enzymes could be characterized. Among the identified players, the enzymes of pheophorbide a
oxygenase pathway and the proteins encoded by STAY GREEN
) genes are the principle ones. On the biochemical level, abscisic acid (ABA) is the main regulator of seed chlorophyll degradation, mediating activity of corresponding catabolic enzymes on the transcriptional level. In general, a deep insight in the mechanisms of chlorophyll degradation is required to develop the approaches for production of chlorophyll-free high quality seeds.
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