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Germination-associated events and the desiccation sensitivity of recalcitrant seeds — a study on three unrelated species

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The storage behaviour of recalcitrant seeds was assessed using three diverse species: a gymnosperm, Araucaria angustifolia (Bert.) O. Kuntze; a herbaceous monocotyledon, Scadoxus membranaceus (Bak.) Friis Nordal; and a woody dicotyledon, Landolphia kirkii Dyer. Seeds were stored under conditions of high relative humidities that maintained seed moisture content and under low relative humidities that caused drying. At regular intervals moisture content was determined, germinability assessed and the ultrastructure of radicle meristem cells examined. Under storage at high relative humidity, seed moisture content was maintained at the original level and subcellular germination events were initiated in the short-term. Such seeds showed enhanced rates of germination when removed from storage and planted. Long-term storage under these conditions resulted in the initiation of subcellular damage which intensified with time and ultimately resulted in the loss of viability. The rate at which germination events proceeded varied among the three species, and could be directly correlated with the period of viability retention under humid storage conditions. Storage under desiccating conditions resulted in subcellular damage and rapid loss of viability. The rate at which the seeds dried varied among the three species. The proportion of water loss tolerated by the different species before loss of viability, correlated with the rate of drying. The storage behaviour of the seeds of these three species is discussed in terms of a previously described model.

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Farrant, J.M., Pammenter, N.W. & Berjak, P. Germination-associated events and the desiccation sensitivity of recalcitrant seeds — a study on three unrelated species. Planta 178, 189–198 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00393194

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Key words

  • Araucaria (seed viability)
  • Germination (recalcitrant seeds)
  • Landolphia (seed viability)
  • Scadoxus (seed viability)
  • Seed (desiccation sensitivity)
  • Viability (retention/loss)