, Volume 221, Issue 1, pp 17-27
Date: 17 Dec 2004

Water uptake and oil distribution during imbibition of seeds of western white pine (Pinus monticola Dougl. ex D. Don) monitored in vivo using magnetic resonance imaging

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Dry or fully imbibed seeds of western white pine (Pinus monticola Dougl. ex D. Don) were studied using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Analyses of the dry seed revealed many of the gross anatomical features of seed structure. Furthermore, the non-invasive nature of MRI allowed for a study of the dynamics of water and oil distribution during in situ imbibition of a single seed with time-lapse chemical shift selective MRI. During soaking of the dry seed, water penetrated through the seed coat and megagametophyte. The cotyledons of the embryo (located in the chalazal end of the seed) were the first to show hydration followed by the hypocotyl and later the radicle. After penetrating the seed coat, water in the micropylar end of the seed likely also contributed to further hydration of the embryo; however, the micropyle itself did not appear to be a site for water entry into the seed. A model that describes the kinetics of the earlier stages of imbibition is proposed. Non-viable pine seeds captured with MRI displayed atypical imbibition kinetics and were distinguished by their rapid and uncontrolled water uptake. The potential of MR microimaging for detailed studies of water uptake and distribution during the soaking, moist chilling (“stratification”), and germination of conifer seeds is discussed.