Prolonged storage generally reduces seed viability and vigour, although the rate of deterioration varies among species and environmental conditions. Garza-Caligaris et al. find that expression of the DUF642 gene At3g08030 in Arabidopsis thaliana is greatly enhanced in primed seeds whilst low levels of transcript are found in seeds subject to controlled deterioration. They clone At3g08030 in two wild species, Ceiba aesculifolia and Wigandia urens, and find the transcript to be present in recently shed seeds but not in aged ones. They therefore propose that At3g08030 mRNA detection in a dry seed lot has potential for use as a molecular marker for germination performance in a variety of plant species.