Key messageWe show that the calcium sensor, CML39, is important in various developmental processes from seeds to mature plants. This study bridges previous work on CML39 as a stress-induced gene and highlights the importance of calcium signalling in plant development.AbstractIn addition to the evolutionarily-conserved Ca2+ sensor, calmodulin (CaM), plants possess a large family of CaM-related proteins (CMLs). Using a cml39 loss-of-function mutant, we investigated the roles of CML39 in Arabidopsis and discovered a range of phenotypes across developmental stages and in different tissues. In mature plants, loss of CML39 results in shorter siliques, reduced seed number per silique, and reduced number of ovules per pistil. We also observed changes in seed development, germination, and seed coat properties in cml39 mutants in comparison to wild-type plants. Using radicle emergence as a measure of germination, cml39 mutants showed more rapid germination than wild-type plants. In marked contrast to wild-type seeds, the germination of developing, immature cml39 seeds was not sensitive to cold-stratification. In addition, germination of cml39 seeds was less sensitive than wild-type to inhibition by ABA or by treatments that impaired gibberellic acid biosynthesis. Tetrazolium red staining indicated that the seed-coat permeability of cml39 seeds is greater than that of wild-type seeds. RNA sequencing analysis of cml39 seedlings suggests that changes in chromatin modification may underlie some of the phenotypes associated with cml39 mutants, consistent with previous reports that orthologs of CML39 participate in gene silencing. Aberrant ectopic expression of transcripts for seed storage proteins in 7-day old cml39 seedlings was observed, suggesting mis-regulation of early developmental programs. Collectively, our data support a model where CML39 serves as an important Ca2+ sensor during ovule and seed development, as well as during germination and seedling establishment.