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Scheduling Viability Tests for Seeds in Long-Term Storage Based on a Bayesian Multi-Level Model

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Abstract

Genebank managers conduct viability tests on stored seeds so they can replace lots that have viability near a critical threshold, such as 50 or 85 % germination. Currently, these tests are typically scheduled at uniform intervals; testing every 5 years is common. A manager needs to balance the cost of an additional test against the possibility of losing a seed lot due to late retesting. We developed a data-informed method to schedule viability tests for a collection of 2,833 maize seed lots with 3 to 7 completed viability tests per lot. Given these historical data reporting on seed viability at arbitrary times, we fit a hierarchical Bayesian seed-viability model with random seed lot specific coefficients. The posterior distribution of the predicted time to cross below a critical threshold was estimated for each seed lot. We recommend a predicted quantile as a retest time, chosen to balance the importance of catching quickly decaying lots against the cost of premature tests. The method can be used with any seed-viability model; we focused on two, the Avrami viability curve and a quadratic curve that accounts for seed after-ripening. After fitting both models, we found that the quadratic curve gave more plausible predictions than did the Avrami curve. Also, a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis and a follow-up test demonstrated that a 0.05 quantile yields reasonable predictions.

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Correspondence to Allan Trapp II.

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Trapp, A., Dixon, P., Widrlechner, M.P. et al. Scheduling Viability Tests for Seeds in Long-Term Storage Based on a Bayesian Multi-Level Model. JABES 17, 192–208 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13253-012-0085-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13253-012-0085-y

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