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Open Access Research article

Characterization and structural analysis of wild type and a non-abscission mutant at the development funiculus (Def) locus in Pisum sativum L

Kwadwo Owusu Ayeh1, YeonKyeong Lee1, Mike J Ambrose2 and Anne Kathrine Hvoslef-Eide1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, PO BOX 5003, 1432 Aas, Norway

2 Department of Crops Genetics, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney Lane, NR4 7UH Norwich, UK

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BMC Plant Biology 2009, 9:76  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-76

Published: 23 June 2009



In pea seeds (Pisum sativum L.), the Def locus defines an abscission event where the seed separates from the funicle through the intervening hilum region at maturity. A spontaneous mutation at this locus results in the seed failing to abscise from the funicle as occurs in wild type peas. In this work, structural differences between wild type peas that developed a distinct abscission zone (AZ) between the funicle and the seed coat and non-abscission def mutant were characterized.


A clear abscission event was observed in wild type pea seeds that were associated with a distinct double palisade layers at the junction between the seed coat and funicle. Generally, mature seeds fully developed an AZ, which was not present in young wild type seeds. The AZ was formed exactly below the counter palisade layer. In contrast, the palisade layers at the junction of the seed coat and funicle were completely absent in the def mutant pea seeds and the cells in this region were seen to be extensions of surrounding parenchymatous cells.


The Def wild type developed a distinct AZ associated with palisade layer and counterpalisade layer at the junction of the seed coat and funicle while the def mutant pea seed showed non-abscission and an absence of the double palisade layers in the same region. We conclude that the presence of the double palisade layer in the hilum of the wild type pea seeds plays an important structural role in AZ formation by delimiting the specific region between the seed coat and the funicle and may play a structural role in the AZ formation and subsequent detachment of the seed from the funicle.