Synchronization of developmental, molecular and metabolic aspects of source–sink interactions

Alisdair R. Fernie*, Christian W.B. Bachem, Yrjö Helariutta, H.E. Neuhaus, Salomé Prat, Yong Ling Ruan, Mark Stitt, Lee J. Sweetlove, Mechthild Tegeder, Vanessa Wahl, Sophia Sonnewald, Uwe Sonnewald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Plants have evolved a multitude of strategies to adjust their growth according to external and internal signals. Interconnected metabolic and phytohormonal signalling networks allow adaption to changing environmental and developmental conditions and ensure the survival of species in fluctuating environments. In agricultural ecosystems, many of these adaptive responses are not required or may even limit crop yield, as they prevent plants from realizing their fullest potential. By lifting source and sink activities to their maximum, massive yield increases can be foreseen, potentially closing the future yield gap resulting from an increasing world population and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. To do so, a better understanding of the interplay between metabolic and developmental processes is required. In the past, these processes have been tackled independently from each other, but coordinated efforts are required to understand the fine mechanics of source–sink relations and thus optimize crop yield. Here, we describe approaches to design high-yielding crop plants utilizing strategies derived from current metabolic concepts and our understanding of the molecular processes determining sink development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-66
JournalNature Plants
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020

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