Seeds pp 1-33 | Cite as


Germination, Structure, and Composition
  • J. Derek Bewley
  • Michael Black


The new plant formed by sexual reproduction starts as an embryo within the developing seed, which arises from the ovule. When mature, the seed is the means by which the new individual is dispersed, though frequently the ovary wall or even extrafloral organs remain in close association to form a more complex dispersal unit as in grasses and cereals. The seed, therefore, occupies a critical position in the life history of the higher plant. The success with which the new individual is established—the time, the place, and the vigor of the young seedling—is largely determined by the physiological and biochemical features of the seed. Of key importance to this success are the seed’s responses to the environment and the food reserves it contains, which are available to sustain the young plant in the early stages of growth before it becomes an independent, autotrophic organism, able to use light energy. People also depend on these activities for almost all of their utilization of plants. Cultivation of most crop species depends on seed germination, though, of course, there are exceptions when propagation is carried out vegetatively. Moreover, seeds such as those of cereals and legumes are themselves major food sources whose importance lies in the storage reserves of protein, starch, and oil laid down during development and maturation.


Seed Coat Storage Protein Phytic Acid Protein Body Castor Bean 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Useful Literature References

Sections 1.1 and 1.2: Some Advanced Literature on Seeds and Germination

  1. Bewley, J. D., and Black, M., 1978, 1982, Physiology and Biochemistry of Seeds, Volumes 1 and 2, Springer-Verlag, Berlin (covers all aspects of viability, germination, dormancy, and environmental control).Google Scholar
  2. Come, D., and Corbineau, F., 1993, Basic and Applied Aspects of Seed Biology, Volumes 1–3, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, ASFIS, Paris (presentations from 4th International Workshop on Seeds).Google Scholar
  3. Khan, A. A. (ed.), 1977, The Physiology and Biochemistry of Seed Dormancy and Germination, North-Holland, Amsterdam (multiauthor contributions).Google Scholar
  4. Khan, A. A. (ed.), 1982, The Physiology and Biochemistry of Seed Development, Dormancy and Germination, Elsevier, Amsterdam (multiauthor contributions).Google Scholar
  5. Murray, D. R. (ed.), 1984, Seed Physiology, Volumes 1 and 2, Academic Press, New York (multiauthor work covering selected topics in development, germination, and reserve mobilization).Google Scholar
  6. Roberts, E. H. (ed.), 1972, Viability of Seeds, Chapman and Hall, London (mostly viability but includes some physiology).Google Scholar
  7. Simpson, G. M., 1990, Seed Dormancy in Grasses, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (overview of dormancy, especially in wild oats).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Taylorson, R. B. (ed.), 1989, Recent Advances in the Development and Germination of Seeds, Plenum Press, New York (NATO Workshop proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Seeds).Google Scholar

Section 1.3

  1. Goodchild, N. A., and Walker, M. G., 1971, Am. Bot. 35:615–621 (measurement of germination).Google Scholar
  2. Hewlett, P. S., and Plackett, R. L., 1979, An Introduction to the Interpretation of Quantal Responses in Biology, Arnold, London (methods for mathematical analysis).Google Scholar
  3. Janssen, J. G. M., 1973, Ann. Bot. 37:705–708 (recording germination curves).Google Scholar
  4. Richter, D. D., and Switzer, G. L., 1982, Ann. Bot. 50:459–463 (quantitative expressions of dormancy in seeds).Google Scholar

Section 1.4

  1. Corner, E. J. H., 1976, The Seeds of Dicotyledons, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (a comprehensive two-volume work on seed anatomy).Google Scholar
  2. Forest Service, U.S. Dept. Agriculture, 1974, Seeds of Woody Plants in the United States, USDA, Washington, D.C. (structure and classification aspects).Google Scholar
  3. Rost, T. L., 1973, Iowa State J. Res., 48:47–87 (grass caryopsis anatomy).Google Scholar
  4. Vaughan, J. G., 1970, The Structure and Utilization of Oil Seeds, Chapman and Hall, London (anatomy of oil seeds).Google Scholar
  5. Webb, M. A., and Arnott, H. J., 1982, Scanning Electron Microsc. 3:1109–1131 (mineral inclusions in seeds and seed coats).Google Scholar

Section 1.5

  1. Biochemie und Physiologie der Pflanzen, 1988, 183:99-250 (multiauthor symposium volume on seed proteins).Google Scholar
  2. Borroto, K., and Dure, L., 1987, Plant Mol. Biol. 8:113–131 (structural relationships and evolution of globulins).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Casey, R., Domoney, C., and Ellis, N., 1986, Oxford Surv. Plant Mol. Cell Biol. 3:1–95 (exhaustive review of legume storage proteins and their genes).Google Scholar
  4. Crocker, W., and Barton, L. V., 1957, Physiology of Seeds, Chronica Botanica, Waltham, Mass. (includes seed constituent composition).Google Scholar
  5. Derbyshire, E., Wright, D. J., and Boulter, D., 1976, Phytochemistry 15:3–24 (seed proteins).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dey, P. M., and Dixon, R. A. (eds.), 1985, Biochemistry of Storage Carbohydrates in Green Plants, Academic Press, New York (chapters on seed carbohydrates).Google Scholar
  7. Duffus, C. M., and Slaughter, J. C., 1980, Seeds and Their Uses, Wiley, New York (economically important seeds).Google Scholar
  8. Earle, F. R., Curtice, J. J., and Hubbard, J. E., 1946, Cereal Chem. 23:504–511 (composition of corn kernel regions).Google Scholar
  9. Frey, K. J., 1977, Z Pflanzenzuchtg. 78:185–215 (amino acids in cereal proteins).Google Scholar
  10. Jacobsen, J. V., Knox, R. B., and Pyliotis, N. A., 1971, Planta 101:189–209 (protein bodies in barley aleurone layers).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kreiss, M., and Shewry, P. R., 1989, Bio-Essays 10:201–207 (seed protein structure and evolution).Google Scholar
  12. Krochko, J. E., and Bewley, J. D., 1988, Electrophoresis 9:751–763 (techniques for separation and identification of legume storage proteins).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lambert, N., and Yarwood, J. N., 1992, in: Plant Protein Engineering (P. R. Shewry and S. Gutteridge, eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 167–187 (legume storage proteins, structure, uses and genetic engineering).Google Scholar
  14. Larkins, B. A., 1981, in: The Biochemistry of Plants. Proteins and Nucleic Acids, Volume 6 (A. Marcus, ed.), Academic Press, New York, pp. 449–489 (seed storage proteins: review).Google Scholar
  15. Lott, J. N. A., 1981, Nord. J. Bot. 1:421–432 (protein bodies and inclusions: review).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Miflin, B. J., and Shewry, P. R., 1981, in: Nitrogen and Carbon Metabolism (J. D. Bewley, ed.), Nijhoff Junk, The Hague, pp. 195–248 (seed storage proteins: review).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Miller, E. C., 1931, Plant Physiology, McGraw-Hill, New York (seed constituent composition).Google Scholar
  18. Parker, M. L., 1981, Ann. Bot. 47:181–186 (rye endosperm structure).Google Scholar
  19. Payne, P. I., and Rhodes, A. P., 1982, in: Encyclopaedia of Plant Physiology, New Series, Springer, Berlin, Volume 14A, pp. 346–369 (cereal storage proteins: review).Google Scholar
  20. Richardson, M., 1991, Methods Plant Biochem. 5:259–305 (enzyme inhibitors as seed storage proteins).Google Scholar
  21. Shewry, P. R., and Tatham, A. S., 1990, Biochem. J. 267:1–12 (cereal protein relationships and evolution).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Weber, E. J., 1980, in: The Resource Potential in Phytochemistry. Recent Advances in Phytochemistry, Volume 14, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 97–137 (composition of corn kernels).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Weber, E., and Neumann, D., 1980, Biochem. Physiol. Pflanzen 175:279–306 (protein bodies and phytin).Google Scholar
  24. Winton, A. L., and Winton, K. B., 1932, The Structure and Composition of Foods, Volume 1, Wiley, New York (review).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Derek Bewley
    • 1
  • Michael Black
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Division of Life Sciences, King’s CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonEngland

Personalised recommendations