Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 275–296 | Cite as

Viability of Oryza sativa L. seeds stored under genebank conditions for up to 30 years

  • Fiona R. Hay
  • Flora de Guzman
  • David Ellis
  • Hazel Makahiya
  • Teresita Borromeo
  • N. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton
Research Article


Germination ability, equilibrium relative humidity (eRH), and moisture content of ‘control’ seed samples representing 183 rice accessions stored in the active (2–4 °C) and base (−10 °C until 1993, then −20 °C) collections of the T. T. Chang Genetic Resources Center were determined after storage for 20.5–30.5 years. Germination of seeds that had been stored in the base collection was generally high (>70 %), whereas germination was more variable for seeds stored in the active collection. Samples with lower viability after storage in the active collection were likely to have lower viability after storage in the base collection. There were significant differences in the moisture content-eRH relationship of the seeds depending on whether the seeds had been stored in the active or base collection. Based on re-test data for regular seed samples regenerated in 1979–1980 and stored in the active collection for up to 31 years, estimates of the time for ability to germinate to fall to 50 % (p 50) ranged from 54 to 997 years. For the same seed samples stored in the base collection for approximately 31 years, ability to germinate has been maintained and germination increased due to improved procedures. The ability to germinate of base collection samples was also generally higher than that of ‘safety duplicate’ samples of the same seed lots that had been sent to the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, USA in 1981 and stored at −18 °C. This may have been due to uptake of moisture either during processing for dispatch or as a consequence of poor packaging material. The results are discussed in relation to long-term seed storage and genebank management.


Conservation Genebank Oryza sativa Rice Seed longevity 



We would like to acknowledge all the staff who have worked at the T. T. Chang Genetic Resources Center since 1979 and who have therefore contributed to this data set. We are grateful to Nora Kuroda and Stephen Timple (IRRI) who assisted in the germination and moisture testing of the control samples, to Prof. Richard Ellis (University of Reading) for commenting on an earlier version of this paper, and to Dr. Robin Probert (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew) for helpful discussions. The Global Crop Diversity Trust provides financial support towards the maintenance of the rice collections in the T. T. Chang Genetic Resources Center and for safety duplication.

Supplementary material

10722_2012_9833_MOESM1_ESM.xls (34 kb)
Germination and equilibrium relative humidity data for control samples listed in Table 1. (XLS 33 kb)
10722_2012_9833_MOESM2_ESM.doc (2.4 mb)
Germination re-test data for active- and base-stored samples corresponding to the 172 repatriated safety duplicates. Also shown is the latest (after 29.9–30.8 years of storage) germination result for samples from the base collection; the germination of the safety duplicates and of seeds from unopened cans, if available; and the eRH of the seeds upon opening the base-stored cans or safety duplicate packets. Note: Accession 25840 1979WS-regenerated base sample not available at the time of re-testing in 2011. (DOC 2433 kb)


  1. Bailly C, El-Maarouf-Bouteau H, Corbineau F (2008) From intracellular signaling networks to cell death: the dual role of oxygen species in seed physiology. C R Biol 331:806–814PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell L, Labuza T (2000) Moisture sorption: practical aspects of isotherm measurement and use. American Association of Cereal Chemists Inc., St. Paul, MinnesotaGoogle Scholar
  3. Braunauer S, Emmett PH, Teller E (1938) Adsorption of gases in multimolecular layers. J Am Chem Soc 60:309–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buitink J, Walters C, Hoekstra FA, Crane J (1998) Storage behavior of Typha latifolia pollen at low water contents: interpretation on the basis of water activity and glass concepts. Phys Plant 103:145–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chandler RF (1982) An adventure in applied science: a history of the International Rice Research Institute. International Rice Research Institute, Los BañosGoogle Scholar
  6. Chang TT (1991) Findings from a 28-yr seed viability experiment. Int Rice Res Newsl 16:5–6Google Scholar
  7. Crisostomo S, Hay FR, Reaño R, Borremeo T (2011) Are the standard conditions for genebank drying optimal for rice seed quality? Seed Sci Technol 39:666–672Google Scholar
  8. Cromarty AS, Ellis RH, Roberts EH (1982) The design of seed storage facilities for genetic conservation. International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, RomeGoogle Scholar
  9. Eckey EW (1954) Vegetable fats and oils. Am Chem Soc Monogr Ser 123. Reinhold, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Ellis RH (2011) Rice seed quality development and temperature during late development and maturation. Seed Sci Res 21:95–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ellis RH, Hong TD (1994) Desiccation tolerance and potential longevity of developing seeds of rice (Oryza sativa L.). Ann Bot 73:501–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ellis RH, Hong TD (2006) Temperature sensitivity of the low-moisture-content limit to negative seed longevity-moisture content relationships in hermetic storage. Ann Bot 97:785–791PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ellis RH, Hong TD (2007a) Seed longevity: moisture content relationships in hermetic and open storage. Seed Sci Technol 35:423–431Google Scholar
  14. Ellis RH, Hong TD (2007b) Quantitative response of the longevity of seed of twelve crops to temperature and moisture in hermetic storage. Seed Sci Technol 35:432–444Google Scholar
  15. Ellis RH, Roberts EH (1980) Improved equations for the prediction of seed longevity. Ann Bot 45:13–30Google Scholar
  16. Ellis RH, Hong TD, Roberts EH (1985) Handbooks for genebanks 2: handbook of seed technology for genebanks, vol 1, principles and methodology. International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, RomeGoogle Scholar
  17. Ellis RH, Hong TD, Roberts EH (1988) A low-moisture-content limit to logarithmic relations between seed moisture content and longevity. Ann Bot 61:405–408Google Scholar
  18. Ellis RH, Hong TD, Roberts EH (1989) A comparison of the low-moisture-content limit to the logarithmic relation between seed moisture and longevity in twelve species. Ann Bot 63:601–611Google Scholar
  19. Ellis RH, Hong TD, Roberts EH (1992) The low-moisture content limit to the negative logarithmic relation between seed longevity and moisture content in three subspecies of rice. Ann Bot 69:53–58Google Scholar
  20. Ellis RH, Hong TD, Jackson MT (1993) Seed production environment, time of harvest, and the potential longevity of seeds of three cultivars of rice (Oryza sativa L.). Ann Bot 72:583–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ellis RH, Hong TD, Roberts EH (1995) Survival and vigour of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) seeds stored at low and very-low moisture contents. Ann Bot 76:521–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. FAO (2010) The second report of the state of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  23. FAO/IPGRI (1994) Genebank standards. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, RomeGoogle Scholar
  24. Gómez-Campo C (2006) Erosion of genetic resources within seed genebanks: the role of seed containers. Seed Sci Res 16:291–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hanson J (1985) Practical manuals for genebanks 1: procedures for handling seeds in genebanks. International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, RomeGoogle Scholar
  26. Hay FR, Probert RJ, Smith RD (1997) The effect of maturity on the moisture relations of seed longevity in foxglove (Digitalis purpurea L.). Seed Sci Res 7:341–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hay F, Adams J, Manger K, Probert R (2008) The use of non-saturated lithium chloride solutions for experimental control of seed water content. Seed Sci Technol 36:737–746Google Scholar
  28. Hay FR, Smith RD, Ellis RH, Butler LH (2010) Developmental changes in the germinability, desiccation tolerance, hardseededness, and longevity of individual seeds of Trifolium ambiguum. Ann Bot 105:1035–1052PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hong TD, Linington S, Ellis RH (1996) Seed storage behaviour: a compendium. Handbooks for Genebanks: No. 4. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, RomeGoogle Scholar
  30. IBPGR (1976) Report of the IBPGR Working Group on Engineering, Design and Cost Aspects of Long-term Seed Storage Facilities. International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, RomeGoogle Scholar
  31. Iguaz A, Virseda P (2007) Moisture desorption isotherms of rough rice at high temperatures. J Food Eng 79:794–802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. ISTA (2005) International rules for seed testing edition 2005. International Seed Testing Association, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  33. Labuza TP (1980) The effect of water activity on reaction-kinetics of food deterioration. Food Technol 34:36–59Google Scholar
  34. Labuza TP, Kaanane A, Chen JY (1985) Effect of temperature on the moisture sorption isotherms and water activity shift of two dehydrated foods. J Food Sci 50:385–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Manger KR, Adams J, Probert RJ (2003) Selecting seed containers for the Millennium Seed Bank Project: a technical review and survey. In: Smith RD, Dickie JD, Linington SH, Prichard HW, Probert RJ (eds) Seed conservation: turning science into practice. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, pp 637–652Google Scholar
  36. Mead A, Gray D (1999) Prediction of seed longevity: a modification of the shape of the Ellis and Roberts seed survival curves. Seed Sci Res 9:63–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Miura K, Lin SY, Yano M, Nagamine T (2002) Mapping quantitative trait loci controlling seed longevity in rice (Oryza sativa L.). Theor Appl Genet 104:981–986PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nagel M, Börner A (2010) The longevity of crop seeds stored under ambient conditions. Seed Sci Res 20:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Niedzielski M, Walters C, Luczak W, Hill LM, Wheeler LJ, Puchalski J (2009) Assessment of variation in seed longevity within rye, wheat and the intergeneric hybrid triticale. Seed Sci Res 19:213–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pérez-García F, González-Benito ME, Gómez-Campo C (2008) Germination of fourteen endemic species from the Iberian Peninsula, Canary and Balearic Islands after 32–34 years of storage at low temperature and very low water content. Seed Sci Technol 36:407–422Google Scholar
  41. Pérez-García F, Gómez-Campo C, Ellis RH (2009) Successful long-term ultra dry storage of seed of 15 species of Brassicaceae in a genebank: variation in ability to germinate over 40 years and dormancy. Seed Sci Technol 37:640–649Google Scholar
  42. Probert RJ, Manger KR, Adams J (2003) Non-destructive measurement of seed moisture. In: Smith RD, Dickie JD, Linington SH, Prichard HW, Probert RJ (eds) Seed conservation: turning science into practice. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, pp 367–388Google Scholar
  43. Rahman MS, Labuza TP (2007) Water activity and food preservation. In: Rahman MS (ed) Handbook of food preservation, 2nd edn. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, pp 447–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rao NK, Jackson MT (1996a) Seed longevity of rice cultivars and strategies for their conservation in genebanks. Ann Bot 77:251–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rao NK, Jackson MT (1996b) Seed production environment and storage longevity of japonica rices (Oryza sativa L.). Seed Sci Res 6:17–21Google Scholar
  46. Rao NK, Jackson MT (1996c) Effect of sowing date and harvest time on longevity of rice seeds. Seed Sci Res 7:13–20Google Scholar
  47. Rao NK, Hanson J, Dulloo ME, Ghosh K, Nowell D, Larinde M (2006) Manual of seed handling in genebanks. Bioversity International, RomeGoogle Scholar
  48. Roberts EH, Ellis RH (1989) Water and seed survival. Ann Bot 63:39–52Google Scholar
  49. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (2008) Seed information database (SID). Version 7.1.
  50. Sablani SS, Bruno L, Kasapis S, Symaladevi RM (2009) Thermal transitions of rice: development of a state diagram. J Food Eng 90:110–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sasaki K, Fukuta Y, Sato T (2005) Mapping of quantitative trait loci controlling seed longevity of rice (Oryza sativa L.) after various periods of seed storage. Plant Breed 124:361–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shigemune A, Miura K, Sasahara H, Goto A, Yoshida T (2008) Role of maternal tissues in qLG-9 control of seed longevity of rice (Oryza sativa L.). Breed Sci 58:1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Togrul H, Arslan N (2006) Moisture sorption behaviour and thermodynamic characteristics of rice stored in a chamber under controlled humidity. Biosyst Eng 95:181–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Vertucci CW, Roos EE (1990) Theoretical basis of protocols for seed storage. Plant Physiol 94:1019–1023PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Vertucci CW, Roos EE (1993) Theoretical basis of protocols for seed storage. II. The influence of temperature on optimal moisture levels. Seed Sci Res 3:201–213Google Scholar
  56. Vertucci CW, Roos EE, Crane J (1994) Theoretical basis of protocols for seed storage. III. Optimum moisture contents for pea seeds stored at different temperatures. Ann Bot 74:531–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Walters C (1998) Understanding the mechanisms and kinetics of seed aging. Seed Sci Res 8:223–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Walters C, Engels J (1998) Effect of storing seeds under extremely dry conditions. Seed Sci Res 8(suppl 1):3–8Google Scholar
  59. Walters C, Wheeler LM, Grotenhuis JM (2005) Longevity of seeds stored in a genebank: species characteristics. Seed Sci Res 15:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Xue Y, Zhang SQ, Yao QH, Peng RH, Xiong AS, Li X, Zhu WM, Zhu YY, Zha DS (2008) Identification of quantitative trait loci for seed storability in rice (Oryza sativa L.). Euphytica 164:739–744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zeng DL, Guo LB, Xu YB, Yasukumi K, Zhu LH, Qian Q (2006) QTL analysis of seed storability in rice. Plant Breed 125:57–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fiona R. Hay
    • 1
  • Flora de Guzman
    • 1
  • David Ellis
    • 2
  • Hazel Makahiya
    • 3
  • Teresita Borromeo
    • 3
  • N. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton
    • 1
  1. 1.T. T. Chang Genetic Resources CenterInternational Rice Research InstituteMetro ManilaPhilippines
  2. 2.Plant Genetic Resources Preservation ProgramUSDA-ARS National Center for Genetic Resources PreservationFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.Crop Science Cluster, College of AgricultureUniversity of the PhilippinesLos BañosPhilippines

Personalised recommendations