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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Biophysical Approaches to Measure and Predict Seed Longevity

Author
item Walters, Christina

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 6, 2008
Publication Date: July 6, 2008
Citation: Walters, C.T. 2008. Biophysical approaches to measure and predict seed longevity. 9th International Society for Seed Science Conference on Seed Biology. July 6-11, 2008. Olsztyn, Poland. pp. 88. Meeting Abstract.

Interpretive Summary: Reliable predictions of seed longevity would allow seed companies and seed bank managers to economize on processing, handling and monitoring of stored seeds and select lots that require regeneration or immediate sale. Seed longevity is difficult to predict because early symptoms of deterioration are masked, and subsequent catastrophic decline often occurs quickly and without warning. The duration of the symptomless phase and the steepness of the catastrophic phase are affected by a host of parameters that include storage temperature and RH, prestorage treatments, and genetic propensity for seed aging. Seed longevity under simulated aging conditions of warm, humid environments correlate poorly with longevity measured under more benign conditions, likely because the aqueous and lipid milieu in which aging reactions occur are profoundly affected by RH and temperature. We use a biophysical approach based on viscoelastic properties and reaction cooperatively to measure mobility and amorphous structure within seeds. We then apply these principles to model seed aging. The model enables us to address moisture anomalies arising from excessively high and low humidity storage. Applications of the work may lead to single seed assessments of quality, real-time assessments of storage conditions and impact on quality, and a fundamental understanding of cellular factors that distinguish long and short-lived seeds.

Technical Abstract: Reliable predictions of seed longevity would allow seed companies and seed bank managers to economize on processing, handling and monitoring of stored seeds and select lots that require regeneration or immediate sale. Seed longevity is difficult to predict because early symptoms of deterioration are masked, and subsequent catastrophic decline often occurs quickly and without warning. The duration of the symptomless phase and the steepness of the catastrophic phase are affected by a host of parameters that include storage temperature and RH, prestorage treatments, and genetic propensity for seed aging. Seed longevity under simulated aging conditions of warm, humid environments correlate poorly with longevity measured under more benign conditions, likely because the aqueous and lipid milieu in which aging reactions occur are profoundly affected by RH and temperature. We use a biophysical approach based on viscoelastic properties and reaction cooperatively to measure mobility and amorphous structure within seeds. We then apply these principles to model seed aging. The model enables us to address moisture anomalies arising from excessively high and low humidity storage. Applications of the work may lead to single seed assessments of quality, real-time assessments of storage conditions and impact on quality, and a fundamental understanding of cellular factors that distinguish long and short-lived seeds.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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