Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Seeds: Science, Technology and Uses
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 14, 2003
Publication Date: October 1, 2006
Citation: Foley, M.E. 2006. Pre-harvest sprouting - genetics. Encyclopedia of Seeds: Science, Technology and Uses. (eds. M. Black, J.D. Bewley, and P. Halmer). CAB International, 528-531. Interpretive Summary: Interpretive Seed dormancy is a characteristic of weedy and non-domesticated plants. Dormancy in crop seeds is generally not conducive to modern crop production practices where rapid and uniform germination is desired. Therefore, delayed germination or dormancy was under negative selection pressure during domestication of modern crop cultivars. However, in some cereal grain crops where conditions after seed dry-down, but before harvest are wet or humid seeds germinate in the head. This is called pre-harvest sprouting. Pre-harvest sprouting is undesirable because it reduces seed yield and quality. This encyclopedia article details recent research on the genetics of pre-harvest sprouting and outlines efforts to mark the genes that control this trait in rice, wheat, barley, and sorghum.
Technical Abstract: Technical Pre-harvest sprouting is a condition after dry-down of crop plants in the field but before harvest where seeds germinate in the head because conditions are wet or humid. Pre-harvest sprouting reduces seed yield and quality and results from a low to moderate level of seed dormancy. Thus, resistance to preharvest sprouting and seed dormancy are directly correlated. Seed dormancy is defined as the temporary failure of a viable seed to germinate, after a specific length of time, in a particular set of environmental conditions that later evoke germination when the restrictive state has been terminated by either natural or artificial conditions. Seed dormancy is a characteristic of weedy and non-domesticated plants that optimizes the distribution of germination over time enhancing the survival of plants in an ever-changing environment. This encyclopedia article details recent research on the genetics of pre-harvest sprouting and outlines efforts to mark the quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that control this trait in rice, wheat, barley, and sorghum.