Geophytes, the plants that form vegetative storage organs, are characterized by a dual reproduction system, in which vegetative and sexual propagation are tightly regulated to ensure fitness in harsh climatic conditions. Recent findings highlight the role of the PEBP (PHOSPHATIDYLETHANOLAMINE-BINDING PROTEIN) gene family in geophytes as major players in the molecular cascades underlying both types of reproduction. In this review, we briefly explain the life cycle and reproduction strategies of different geophytes and what is known about the physiological aspects related to these processes. Subsequently, an in-depth overview is provided of the molecular and genetic pathways driving these processes. In the evolution of plants, the PEBP gene family has expanded, followed by neo- and subfunctionalization. Careful characterization revealed that differential expression and differential protein complex formation provide the members of this gene family with unique functions, enabling them to mediate the crosstalk between the two reproductive events in geophytes in response to environmental and endogenous cues. Taking all these studies into account, we propose to regard the PEBPs as conductors of geophyte reproductive development.
- vegetative storage organ