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1.  Physiological epicotyl dormancy and recalcitrant storage behaviour in seeds of two tropical Fabaceae (subfamily Caesalpinioideae) species 
AoB Plants  2012;2012:pls044.
We report epicotyl dormancy of two tropical Ceasalpinioid species; Browneacoccinea, Cynometracauliflora. Heretofore, epicotyl dormancy has been reported in only one Ceasalpinioid species.The kind of dormancy in seeds of C. cauliflorawas described with the new formula Cnd(root)–Cp′1b
Background and aims
Physiological epicotyl dormancy in which the epicotyl elongates inside the seed before the shoot emerges has been reported for only a few tropical rainforest species, all of which are trees that produce recalcitrant seeds. In studies on seeds of Fabaceae in Sri Lanka, we observed a considerable time delay in shoot emergence following root emergence in seeds of the introduced caesalpinioid legumes Brownea coccinea and Cynometra cauliflora. Thus, our aim was to determine if seeds of these two tropical rainforest trees have physiological epicotyl dormancy, and also if they are recalcitrant, i.e. desiccation sensitive.
Fresh seeds were (i) dried to various moisture levels, and (ii) stored at −1 and 5 °C to determine loss (or not) of viability and thus type of seed storage behaviour (orthodox, recalcitrant or intermediate). To identify the kind of dormancy, we tested the effect of scarification on imbibition and monitored radicle emergence and epicotyl growth (inside the seed) and emergence.
Principal results
Fresh seeds of both species had high moisture content (MC): 50 % for C. cauliflora and 30 % for B. coccinea. Further, all seeds of C. cauliflora and the majority of those of B. coccinea lost viability when dried to 15 % MC; most seeds of both species also lost viability during storage at −1 or 5 °C. Intact seeds of both species were water permeable, and radicles emerged in a high percentage of them in <30 days. However, shoot emergence lagged behind root emergence by 77 ± 14 days in B. coccinea and by 38 ± 4 days in C. cauliflora. Further, plumule growth inside seeds of C. cauliflora began almost immediately after radicle emergence but not until ∼30–35 days in B. coccinea seeds.
Seeds of both species are recalcitrant and have physiological epicotyl dormancy. The kind of physiological epicotyl dormancy in seeds of C. cauliflora has not been described previously; the formula is Cnd (root)− (epicotyl).
PMCID: PMC3528134  PMID: 23264873
2.  Implications of the lack of desiccation tolerance in recalcitrant seeds 
A suite of interacting processes and mechanisms enables tolerance of desiccation and storage (conservation) of orthodox seeds in the dry state. While this is a long-term option under optimized conditions, dry orthodox seeds are not immortal, with life spans having been characterized as short, intermediate and long. Factors facilitating desiccation tolerance are metabolic “switch-off” and intracellular dedifferentiation. Recalcitrant seeds lack these mechanisms, contributing significantly to their desiccation sensitivity. Consequently, recalcitrant seeds, which are shed at high water contents, can be stored only in the short-term, under conditions not allowing dehydration. The periods of such hydrated storage are constrained by germination that occurs without the need for extraneous water, and the proliferation of seed-associated fungi. Cryopreservation is viewed as the only option for long-term conservation of the germplasm of recalcitrant-seeded species. This is not easily achieved, as each of the necessary procedures imposes oxidative damage. Intact recalcitrant seeds cannot be cryopreserved, the common practice being to use excised embryos or embryonic axes as explants. Dehydration is a necessary procedure prior to exposure to cryogenic temperatures, but this is associated with metabolism-linked injury mediated by uncontrolled reactive oxygen species generation and failing anti-oxidant systems. While the extent to which this occurs can be curtailed by maximizing drying rate (flash drying) it cannot be completely obviated. Explant cooling for, and rewarming after, cryostorage must necessarily be rapid, to avoid ice crystallization. The ramifications of desiccation sensitivity are discussed, as are problems involved in cryostorage, particularly those accompanying dehydration and damage consequent upon ice crystallization. While desiccation sensitivity is a “fact” of seed recalcitrance, resolutions of the difficulties involved germplasm conservation are possible as discussed.
PMCID: PMC3837223  PMID: 24319450
cryopreservation; dehydration; desiccation damage; desiccation sensitivity; ice crystallization; recalcitrant seeds; ROS; vitrification
3.  From Avicennia to Zizania: Seed Recalcitrance in Perspective 
Annals of Botany  2007;101(2):213-228.
Considered only in terms of tolerance of, or sensitivity to, desiccation (which is an oversimplification), orthodox seeds are those which tolerate dehydration and are storable in this condition, while highly recalcitrant seeds are damaged by loss of only a small proportion of water and are unstorable for practical purposes. Between these extremes, however, there may be a gradation of the responses to dehydration – and also to other factors – suggesting perhaps that seed behaviour might be best considered as constituting a continuum subtended by extreme orthodoxy and the highest degree of recalcitrance. As the characteristics of seeds of an increasing number of species are elucidated, non-orthodox seed behaviour is emerging as considerably more commonplace – and its basis far more complex – than previously suspected.
Whatever the post-harvest responses of seeds of individual species may be, they are the outcome of the properties of pre-shedding development, and a full understanding of the subtleties of various degrees of non-orthodox behaviour must await the identification of, and interaction among, all the factors conferring extreme orthodoxy. Appreciation of the phenomenon of recalcitrance is confounded by intra- and interseasonal variability across species, as well as within individual species. However, recent evidence suggests that provenance is a pivotal factor in determining the degree of recalcitrant behaviour exhibited by seeds of individual species. Non-orthodox – and, in particular, recalcitrant – seed behaviour is not merely a matter of desiccation sensitivity: the primary basis is that the seeds are actively metabolic when they are shed, in contrast to orthodox types which are quiescent. This affects all aspects of the handling and storage of recalcitrant seeds. In the short to medium term, recalcitrant seeds should be stored in as hydrated a condition as when they are shed, and at the lowest temperature not diminishing vigour or viability. Such hydrated storage has attendant problems of fungal proliferation which, unless minimized, will inevitably and significantly affect seed quality. The life span of seeds in hydrated storage even under the best conditions is variable among species, but is curtailed (days to months), and various approaches attempting to extend non-orthodox seed longevity are discussed. Conservation of the genetic resources by means other than seed storage is then briefly considered, with detail on the potential for, and difficulties with, cryostorage highlighted.
There appears to be little taxonomic relationship among species exhibiting the phenomenon of seed recalcitrance, suggesting that it is a derived trait, with tolerance having been lost a number of times. Although recalcitrant seededness is best represented in the mesic tropics, particularly among rainforest climax species, it does occur in cooler, drier and markedly seasonal habitats. The selective advantages of the trait are considered.
PMCID: PMC2711015  PMID: 17704237
Cryostorage; desiccation sensitivity; ecology; evolution; genetic resources; hydrated storage; metabolic activity; mycoflora; recalcitrant seeds
4.  Comparative Study of Antioxidant Status in Androgenic Embryos of Aesculus hippocastanum and Aesculus flava 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:767392.
In vivo (leaves and seed embryos) and in vitro (androgenic embryos) antioxidant scavenging activity of Aesculus hippocastanum and Aesculus flava medical plants was examined. Here we report antioxidant enzyme activities of superoxide dismutase, catalase, guaiacol peroxidase and glutathione peroxidase, reduced glutathione quantity, flavonoids, soluble protein contents, quantities of malondialdehyde, and •OH radical presence in the investigated plant samples. Total antioxidant capacity of all the samples of A. hippocastanum and A. flava was determined using FRAP, DPPH, and NO• radical scavenger capacity. The leaves of A. flava collected from the botanical garden exhibited stronger antioxidant activity (higher activities of SOD, and higher quantities of GSH, TSH, TPC, and scavenging abilities of DPPH and NO•, and higher FRAP values and lowest quantities of •OH and MDA) than in vitro obtained cultures. However, the leaves of A. flava showed higher antioxidant activity than the leaves of A. hippocastanum, and therefore they have a stronger tolerance of oxidative stress. Androgenic embryos of both species had low amount of antioxidants due to controlled in vitro environmental conditions (T, photoperiod, humidity, nutritive factors, and pathogen-free). Our results confirmed that we found optimal in vitro conditions for producing androgenic embryos of both Aesculus species. Also, we assume that horse chestnut androgenic embryos can be used as an alternative source for large-scale aescin production.
PMCID: PMC3932234  PMID: 24672369
5.  Role of Seed Coat in Imbibing Soybean Seeds Observed by Micro-magnetic Resonance Imaging 
Annals of Botany  2008;102(3):343-352.
Background and Aims
Imbibition of Japanese soybean (Glycine max) cultivars was studied using micro-magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in order to elucidate the mechanism of soaking injury and the protective role of the seed coat.
Time-lapse images during water uptake were acquired by the single-point imaging (SPI) method at 15-min intervals, for 20 h in the dry seed with seed coat, and for 2 h in seeds with the seed coat removed. The technique visualized water migration within the testa and demonstrated the distortion associated with cotyledon swelling during the very early stages of water uptake.
Key Results
Water soon appeared in the testa and went around the dorsal surface of the seed from near the raphe, then migrated to the hilum region. An obvious protrusion was noted when water reached the hypocotyl and the radicle, followed by swelling of the cotyledons. A convex area was observed around the raphe with the enlargement of the seed. Water was always incorporated into the cotyledons from the abaxial surfaces, leading to swelling and generating a large air space between the adaxial surfaces. Water uptake greatly slowed, and the internal structures, veins and oil-accumulating tissues in the cotyledons developed after the seed stopped expanding. When the testa was removed from the dry seeds before imbibition, the cotyledons were severely damaged within 1·5 h of water uptake.
The activation of the water channel seemed unnecessary for water entry into soybean seeds, and the testa rapidly swelled with steeping in water. However, the testa did not regulate the water incorporation in itself, but rather the rate at which water encountered the hypocotyl, the radicle, and the cotyledons through the inner layer of the seed coat, and thus prevented the destruction of the seed tissues at the beginning of imbibition.
PMCID: PMC2516911  PMID: 18565982
Dry seeds; Glycine max; MRI; seed coat; soaking injury; soybean; testa; role of inner layer of seed coat; water uptake
6.  Early carbon mobilization and radicle protrusion in maize germination 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2012;63(12):4513-4526.
Considerable amounts of information is available on the complex carbohydrates that are mobilized and utilized by the seed to support early seedling development. These events occur after radicle has protruded from the seed. However, scarce information is available on the role of the endogenous soluble carbohydrates from the embryo in the first hours of germination. The present work analysed how the soluble carbohydrate reserves in isolated maize embryos are mobilized during 6–24 h of water imbibition, an interval that exclusively embraces the first two phases of the germination process. It was found that sucrose constitutes a very significant reserve in the scutellum and that it is efficiently consumed during the time in which the adjacent embryo axis is engaged in an active metabolism. Sucrose transporter was immunolocalized in the scutellum and in vascular elements. In parallel, a cell-wall invertase activity, which hydrolyses sucrose, developed in the embryo axis, which favoured higher glucose uptake. Sucrose and hexose transporters were active in the embryo tissues, together with the plasma membrane H+-ATPase, which was localized in all embryo regions involved in both nutrient transport and active cell elongation to support radicle extension. It is proposed that, during the initial maize germination phases, a net flow of sucrose takes place from the scutellum towards the embryo axis and regions that undergo elongation. During radicle extension, sucrose and hexose transporters, as well as H+-ATPase, become the fundamental proteins that orchestrate the transport of nutrients required for successful germination.
PMCID: PMC3421986  PMID: 22611232
H+-ATPase; hexose transporter; maize germination; radicle emergence; seed germination; sucrose mobilization; sucrose transporter; sugar transporters
7.  Phylogeny of seed dormancy in Convolvulaceae, subfamily Convolvuloideae (Solanales) 
Annals of Botany  2009;103(1):45-63.
Background and Aims
The water gap is an important morphoanatomical structure in seeds with physical dormancy (PY). It is an environmental signal detector for dormancy break and the route of water into the non-dormant seed. The Convolvulaceae, which consists of subfamilies Convolvuloideae (11 tribes) and Humbertoideae (one tribe, monotypic Humberteae), is the only family in the asterid clade known to produce seeds with PY. The primary aim of this study was to compare the morphoanatomical characteristics of the water gap in seeds of species in the 11 tribes of the Convolvuloideae and to use this information, and that on seed dormancy and storage behaviour, to construct a phylogenetic tree of seed dormancy for the subfamily.
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to define morphological changes in the hilum area during dormancy break; hand and vibratome sections were taken to describe the anatomy of the water gap, hilum and seed coat; and dye tracking was used to identify the initial route of water entry into the non-dormant seed. Results were compared with a recent cladogram of the family.
Key Results
Species in nine tribes have (a) layer(s) of palisade cells in the seed coat, a water gap and orthodox storage behaviour. Erycibe (Erycibeae) and Maripa (Maripeae) do not have a palisade layer in the seed coat or a water gap, and are recalcitrant. The hilar fissure is the water gap in relatively basal Cuscuteae, and bulges adjacent to the micropyle serve as the water gap in the Convolvuloideae, Dicranostyloideae (except Maripeae) and the Cardiochlamyeae clades. Seeds from the Convolvuloideae have morphologically prominent bulges demarcated by cell shape in the sclereid layer, whereas the Dicranostyloideae and Cardiochlamyeae have non-prominent bulges demarcated by the number of sub-cell layers. The anatomy and morphology of the hilar pad follow the same pattern.
PY in the subfamily Convolvuloideae probably evolved in the aseasonal tropics from an ancestor with recalcitrant non-dormant seeds, and it may have arisen as Convolvulaceae radiated to occupy the seasonal tropics. Combinational dormancy may have developed in seeds of some Cuscuta spp. as this genus moved into temperate habitats.
PMCID: PMC2707290  PMID: 19074450
Convolvulaceae; evolution; hilar fissure; physical dormancy; water gap
8.  Ecological significance of seed desiccation sensitivity in Quercus ilex 
Annals of Botany  2013;111(4):693-701.
Background and Aims
Several widespread tree species of temperate forests, such as species of the genus Quercus, produce recalcitrant (desiccation-sensitive) seeds. However, the ecological significance of seed desiccation sensitivity in temperate regions is largely unknown. Do seeds of such species suffer from drying during the period when they remain on the soil, between shedding in autumn and the return of conditions required for germination in spring?
To test this hypothesis, the Mediterranean holm oak (Quercus ilex) forest was used as a model system. The relationships between the climate in winter, the characteristics of microhabitats, acorn morphological traits, and the water status and viability of seeds after winter were then investigated in 42 woodlands sampled over the entire French distribution of the species.
Key Results
The percentages of germination and normal seedling development were tightly linked to the water content of seeds after the winter period, revealing that in situ desiccation is a major cause of mortality. The homogeneity of seed response to drying suggests that neither intraspecific genetic variation nor environmental conditions had a significant impact on the level of desiccation sensitivity of seeds. In contrast, the water and viability status of seeds at the time of collection were dramatically influenced by cumulative rainfall and maximum temperatures during winter. A significant effect of shade and of the type of soil cover was also evidenced.
The findings establish that seed desiccation sensitivity is a key functional trait which may influence the success of recruitment in temperate recalcitrant seed species. Considering that most models of climate change predict changes in rainfall and temperature in the Mediterranean basin, the present work could help foresee changes in the distribution of Q. ilex and other oak species, and hence plant community alterations.
PMCID: PMC3605958  PMID: 23388882
Quercus ilex; acorn; desiccation sensitivity; holm oak; drought; ecological filtering; germination; Mediterranean climate; recalcitrance; winter rainfall
9.  Water Uptake by Dry Beans Observed by Micro-magnetic Resonance Imaging 
Annals of Botany  2006;98(3):545-553.
• Background and Aims Water uptake by dry kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris ‘Rajma’) and adzuki beans (Vigna angularis) was traced using micro-magnetic resonance imaging in order to elucidate the channel of water entry, the manner of water delivery and the timing of swelling of the seeds.
• Methods Magnetic resonance images of beans absorbing water were continuously measured with the single-point imaging method for 16 h or 20 h at 15-min intervals. With this technique, it was possible to detect and visualize the location of water in the beans, at a low water content, in the initial stages of water entry.
• Key Results Water was taken up through a specified tissue, the lens, near the hilum, and distributed primarily to the testa. When water reached the radicle, it began to be incorporated into cotyledons with considerable swelling of the seeds. Water uptake took place within a short time for kidney beans. The initial process of water entry was associated with mechanical vibration of the seed. Rapid hydration of the testa and the swelling of the cotyledons were then observed. Water was supplied to cotyledons through the adaxial epidermis. In contrast, it took a long time, approx. 7 h, to activate the water channel of the lens for adzuki beans which have a tightly fitting testa. Steeping of the testa was not uniform, which induced temporary slanting before enlargement of the seed.
• Conclusions The activation of the lens as the sole water channel, the delivery of water to the radicle within the testa, the swelling of the cotyledons, and the further increment of water are physiologically different processes during imbibition, and were separated by locating water in various tissues and by analysing the time course of water uptake using magnetic resonance imaging with the single-point imaging method.
PMCID: PMC3292055  PMID: 16845137
Water uptake; dry beans; the role of testa; lens; real-time imaging; MRI; Phaseolus vulgaris; Vigna angularis
10.  Identification and characterization of the water gap in the physically dormant seeds of Dodonaea petiolaris: a first report for Sapindaceae 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(5):833-844.
Background and Aims
The Sapindaceae is one of 17 plant families in which seed dormancy is caused by a water-impermeable seed or fruit coat (physical dormancy, PY). However, until now the water gap in Sapindaceae had not been identified. The primary aim of this study was to identify the water gap in Dodonaea petiolaris (Sapindaceae) seeds and to describe its basic morphology and anatomy.
Seed fill, viability, water-uptake (imbibition) and other characteristics were assessed for D. petiolaris seeds. The location and structure of the water gap were investigated using a blocking experiment, time series photography, scanning electron microscopy and light microscopy. Dodonaea petiolaris seeds with PY also were assessed for loss of PY at four ecologically significant temperatures under moist and dry conditions. Seeds of three other species of Sapindaceae were examined for presence of a water gap.
Key Results
The water gap in D. petiolaris seeds was identified as a small plug in the seed coat adjacent to the hilum and opposite the area where the radicle emerges. The plug was dislodged (i.e. water gap opened = dormancy break) by dipping seeds in boiling water for 2·5 min or by incubating seeds on a moist substrate at 20/35 °C for 24 weeks. Layers of cells in the plug, including palisade and subpalisade, are similar to those in the rest of the seed coat. The same kind of water gap was found in three other species of Sapindaceae, Diplopeltis huegelii, Distichostemon hispidulus and Dodonaea aptera.
Following dormancy break (opening of water gap), initial uptake of water by the seed occurs only through the water gap. Thus, the plug must be dislodged before the otherwise intact seed can germinate. The anatomy of the plug is similar to water gaps in some of the other plant families with PY.
PMCID: PMC2749536  PMID: 19620135
Dodonaea petiolaris; physical dormancy; Sapindaceae; seed ecology; seed germination; water gap
11.  The Changing Window of Conditions that Promotes Germination of Two Fire Ephemerals, Actinotus leucocephalus (Apiaceae) and Tersonia cyathiflora (Gyrostemonaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2005;96(7):1225-1236.
• Background and Aims Following a period of burial, more Actinotus leucocephalus (Apiaceae) and Tersonia cyathiflora (Gyrostemonaceae) seeds germinate in smoke water. The main aim of this study was to determine whether these fire-ephemeral seeds exhibit annual dormancy cycling during burial. This study also aimed to determine the effect of dormancy alleviation on the range of light and temperature conditions at which seeds germinate, and the possible factors driving changes in seed dormancy during burial.
• Methods Seeds were collected in summer, buried in soil in mesh bags in autumn and exhumed every 6 months for 24 months. Germination of exhumed and laboratory-stored (15 °C) seeds was assessed at 20 °C in water or smoke water. Germination response to light or dark conditions, incubation temperature (10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 °C), nitrate and gibberellic acid were also examined following burial or laboratory storage for 24 months. In the laboratory seeds were also stored at various temperatures (5, 15, 37 and 20/50 °C) for 1, 2 and 3 months followed by germination testing in water or smoke water.
• Key Results The two species exhibited dormancy cycling during soil burial, producing low levels of germination in response to smoke water when exhumed in spring and high levels of germination in autumn. In autumn, seeds germinated in both light and dark and at a broader range of temperatures than did laboratory-stored seeds, and some Actinotus leucocephalus seeds also germinated in water alone. Dormancy release of Actinotus leucocephalus was slow during dry storage at 15 °C and more rapid at higher temperatures (37 and 20/50 °C); weekly wet/dry cycles further accelerated the rate of dormancy release. Cold stratification (5 °C) induced secondary dormancy. By contrast, no Tersonia cyathiflora seeds germinated following any of the laboratory storage treatments.
• Conclusions Temperature and moisture influence dormancy cycling in Actinotus leucocephalus seeds. These factors alone did not simulate dormancy cycling of Tersonia cyathiflora seeds under the conditions tested.
PMCID: PMC4247073  PMID: 16199485
Dormancy cycling; fire ephemeral; germination stimulants; scarification; smoke water; soil burial; storage temperature; Actinotus leucocephalus; Tersonia cyathiflora
12.  The role of the testa during development and in establishment of dormancy of the legume seed 
Timing of seed germination is one of the key steps in plant life cycles. It determines the beginning of plant growth in natural or agricultural ecosystems. In the wild, many seeds exhibit dormancy and will only germinate after exposure to certain environmental conditions. In contrast, crop seeds germinate as soon as they are imbibed usually at planting time. These domestication-triggered changes represent adaptations to cultivation and human harvesting. Germination is one of the common sets of traits recorded in different crops and termed the “domestication syndrome.” Moreover, legume seed imbibition has a crucial role in cooking properties. Different seed dormancy classes exist among plant species. Physical dormancy (often called hardseededness), as found in legumes, involves the development of a water-impermeable seed coat, caused by the presence of phenolics- and suberin-impregnated layers of palisade cells. The dormancy release mechanism primarily involves seed responses to temperature changes in the habitat, resulting in testa permeability to water. The underlying genetic controls in legumes have not been identified yet. However, positive correlation was shown between phenolics content (e.g., pigmentation), the requirement for oxidation and the activity of catechol oxidase in relation to pea seed dormancy, while epicatechin levels showed a significant positive correlation with soybean hardseededness. myeloblastosis family of transcription factors, WD40 proteins and enzymes of the anthocyanin biosynthesis pathway were involved in seed testa color in soybean, pea and Medicago, but were not tested directly in relation to seed dormancy. These phenolic compounds play important roles in defense against pathogens, as well as affecting the nutritional quality of products, and because of their health benefits, they are of industrial and medicinal interest. In this review, we discuss the role of the testa in mediating legume seed germination, with a focus on structural and chemical aspects.
PMCID: PMC4102250  PMID: 25101104
domestication; dormancy; hardseededness; legumes; proanthocyanidins; seed coat; testa; water permeability
13.  Physiology, morphology and phenology of seed dormancy break and germination in the endemic Iberian species Narcissus hispanicus (Amaryllidaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2011;107(6):1003-1016.
Background and Aims
Only very few studies have been carried out on seed dormancy/germination in the large monocot genus Narcissus. A primary aim of this study was to determine the kind of seed dormancy in Narcissus hispanicus and relate the dormancy breaking and germination requirements to the field situation.
Embryo growth, radicle emergence and shoot growth were studied by subjecting seeds with and without an emerged radicle to different periods of warm, cold or warm plus cold in natural temperatures outdoors and under controlled laboratory conditions.
Key Results
Mean embryo length in fresh seeds was approx. 1·31 mm, and embryos had to grow to 2·21 mm before radicle emergence. Embryos grew to full size and seeds germinated (radicles emerged) when they were warm stratified for 90 d and then incubated at cool temperatures for 30 d. However, the embryos grew only a little and no seeds germinated when they were incubated at 9/5, 10 or 15/4 °C for 30 d following a moist cold pre-treatment at 5, 9/5 or 10 °C. In the natural habitat of N. hispanicus, seeds are dispersed in late May, the embryo elongates in autumn and radicles emerge (seeds germinate) in early November; however, if the seeds are exposed to low temperatures before embryo growth is completed, they re-enter dormancy (secondary dormancy). The shoot does not emerge until March, after germinated seeds are cold stratified in winter.
Seeds of N. hispanicus have deep simple epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy (MPD), with the dormancy formula C1bB(root) – C3(epicotyl). This is the first study on seeds with simple MPD to show that embryos in advanced stages of growth can re-enter dormancy (secondary dormancy).
PMCID: PMC3080619  PMID: 21335326
Dormancy break; embryo growth; epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy; germination; Narcissus hispanicus; phenology; secondary dormancy; shoot emergence
14.  The role of vacuole in plant cell death 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2011;18(8):1298-1304.
Almost all plant cells have large vacuoles that contain both hydrolytic enzymes and a variety of defense proteins. Plants use vacuoles and vacuolar contents for programmed cell death (PCD) in two different ways: for a destructive way and for a non-destructive way. Destruction is caused by vacuolar membrane collapse, followed by the release of vacuolar hydrolytic enzymes into the cytosol, resulting in rapid and direct cell death. The destructive way is effective in the digestion of viruses proliferating in the cytosol, in susceptible cell death induced by fungal toxins, and in developmental cell death to generate integuments (seed coats) and tracheary elements. On the other hand, the non-destructive way involves fusion of the vacuolar and the plasma membrane, which allows vacuolar defense proteins to be discharged into the extracellular space where the bacteria proliferate. Membrane fusion, which is normally suppressed, was triggered in a proteasome-dependent manner. Intriguingly, both ways use enzymes with caspase-like activity; the membrane-fusion system uses proteasome subunit PBA1 with caspase-3-like activity, and the vacuolar-collapse system uses vacuolar processing enzyme (VPE) with caspase-1-like activity. This review summarizes two different ways of vacuole-mediated PCD and discusses how plants use them to attack pathogens that invade unexpectedly.
PMCID: PMC3172105  PMID: 21637288
vacuole; caspases; hypersensitive cell death; proteasome; membrane fusion; cell-autonomous immunity
15.  Architectural remodeling of the tonoplast during fluid-phase endocytosis 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2013;8(7):e24793.
During fluid phase endocytosis (FPE) in plant storage cells, the vacuole receives a considerable amount of membrane and fluid contents. If allowed to accumulate over a period of time, the enlarging tonoplast and increase in fluids would invariably disrupt the structural equilibrium of the mature cells. Therefore, a membrane retrieval process must exist that will guarantee membrane homeostasis in light of tonoplast expansion by membrane addition during FPE. We examined the morphological changes to the vacuolar structure during endocytosis in red beet hypocotyl tissue using scanning laser confocal microscopy and immunohistochemistry. The heavily pigmented storage vacuole allowed us to visualize all architectural transformations during treatment. When red beet tissue was incubated in 200 mM sucrose, a portion of the sucrose accumulated entered the cell by means of FPE. The accumulation process was accompanied by the development of vacuole-derived vesicles which transiently counterbalanced the addition of surplus endocytic membrane during rapid rates of endocytosis. Topographic fluorescent confocal micrographs showed an ensuing reduction in the size of the vacuole-derived vesicles and further suggest their reincorporation into the vacuole to maintain vacuolar unity and solute concentration.
PMCID: PMC3908939  PMID: 23656870
exocytosis; retrograde vesicles; sucrose transport; tonoplast
16.  ABA crosstalk with ethylene and nitric oxide in seed dormancy and germination 
Dormancy is an adaptive trait that enables seed germination to coincide with favorable environmental conditions. It has been clearly demonstrated that dormancy is induced by abscisic acid (ABA) during seed development on the mother plant. After seed dispersal, germination is preceded by a decline in ABA in imbibed seeds, which results from ABA catabolism through 8′-hydroxylation. The hormonal balance between ABA and gibberellins (GAs) has been shown to act as an integrator of environmental cues to maintain dormancy or activate germination. The interplay of ABA with other endogenous signals is however less documented. In numerous species, ethylene counteracts ABA signaling pathways and induces germination. In Brassicaceae seeds, ethylene prevents the inhibitory effects of ABA on endosperm cap weakening, thereby facilitating endosperm rupture and radicle emergence. Moreover, enhanced seed dormancy in Arabidopsis ethylene-insensitive mutants results from greater ABA sensitivity. Conversely, ABA limits ethylene action by down-regulating its biosynthesis. Nitric oxide (NO) has been proposed as a common actor in the ABA and ethylene crosstalk in seed. Indeed, convergent evidence indicates that NO is produced rapidly after seed imbibition and promotes germination by inducing the expression of the ABA 8′-hydroxylase gene, CYP707A2, and stimulating ethylene production. The role of NO and other nitrogen-containing compounds, such as nitrate, in seed dormancy breakage and germination stimulation has been reported in several species. This review will describe our current knowledge of ABA crosstalk with ethylene and NO, both volatile compounds that have been shown to counteract ABA action in seeds and to improve dormancy release and germination.
PMCID: PMC3607800  PMID: 23531630
abscisic acid; dormancy; ethylene; germination; hormone; nitric oxide; seed
17.  Ecophysiology of Seed Dormancy in the Australian Endemic Species Acanthocarpus preissii (Dasypogonaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2006;98(6):1137-1144.
• Background and Aims Seedlings of Acanthocarpus preissii are needed for coastal sand dune restoration in Western Australia. However, seeds of this Western Australian endemic have proven to be very difficult to germinate. The aims of this study were to define a dormancy-breaking protocol, identify time of suitable conditions for dormancy-break in the field and classify the type of seed dormancy in this species.
• Methods Viability, water-uptake (imbibition) and seed and embryo characteristics were assessed for seeds collected in 2003 and in 2004 from two locations. The effects of GA3, smoke-water, GA3 + smoke-water and warm stratification were tested on seed dormancy-break. In a field study, soil temperature and the moisture content of soil and buried seeds were monitored for 1 year.
• Key Results Viability of fresh seeds was >90 %, and they had a fully developed, curved-linear embryo. Fresh seeds imbibed water readily, with mass increasing approx. 52 % in 4 d. Non-treated fresh seeds and those exposed to 1000 ppm GA3, 1 : 10 (v/v) smoke-water/water or 1000 ppm GA3 + 1 : 10 (v/v) smoke-water/water germinated <8 %. Fresh seeds germinated to >80 % when warm-stratified for at least 7 weeks at 18/33 °C and then moved to 7/18 °C, whereas seeds incubated continuously at 7/18 °C germinated to <20 %.
• Conclusions Seeds of A. preisii have non-deep physiological dormancy that is released by a period of warm stratification. Autumn (March/April) is the most likely time for warm stratification of seeds of this species in the field. This is the first report of the requirement for warm stratification for dormancy release in seeds of an Australian species.
PMCID: PMC2803588  PMID: 17008351
Acanthocarpus preissii; Dasypogonaceae; physiological dormancy; seed dormancy; seed germination; warm stratification
18.  Proteome analysis of Norway maple (Acer platanoides L.) seeds dormancy breaking and germination: influence of abscisic and gibberellic acids 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:48.
Seed dormancy is controlled by the physiological or structural properties of a seed and the external conditions. It is induced as part of the genetic program of seed development and maturation. Seeds with deep physiological embryo dormancy can be stimulated to germinate by a variety of treatments including cold stratification. Hormonal imbalance between germination inhibitors (e.g. abscisic acid) and growth promoters (e.g. gibberellins) is the main cause of seed dormancy breaking. Differences in the status of hormones would affect expression of genes required for germination. Proteomics offers the opportunity to examine simultaneous changes and to classify temporal patterns of protein accumulation occurring during seed dormancy breaking and germination. Analysis of the functions of the identified proteins and the related metabolic pathways, in conjunction with the plant hormones implicated in seed dormancy breaking, would expand our knowledge about this process.
A proteomic approach was used to analyse the mechanism of dormancy breaking in Norway maple seeds caused by cold stratification, and the participation of the abscisic (ABA) and gibberellic (GA) acids. Forty-four proteins showing significant changes were identified by mass spectrometry. Of these, eight spots were identified as water-responsive, 18 spots were ABA- and nine GA-responsive and nine spots were regulated by both hormones. The classification of proteins showed that most of the proteins associated with dormancy breaking in water were involved in protein destination. Most of the ABA- and GA-responsive proteins were involved in protein destination and energy metabolism.
In this study, ABA was found to mostly down-regulate proteins whereas GA up-regulated proteins abundance. Most of the changes were observed at the end of stratification in the germinated seeds. This is the most active period of dormancy breaking when seeds pass from the quiescent state to germination. Seed dormancy breaking involves proteins of various processes but the proteasome proteins, S-adenosylmethionine synthetase, glycine-rich RNA binding protein, ABI3-interacting protein 1, EF-2 and adenosylhomocysteinase are of particular importance. The effect of exogenously applied hormones was not a determining factor for total inhibition (ABA) or stimulation (GA) of Norway maple seed dormancy breaking and germination but proteomic data has proven these hormones play a role.
PMCID: PMC2688491  PMID: 19413897
19.  Semi-viviparous embryo development and dehydrin expression in the mangrove Rhizophora mucronata Lam. 
Sexual Plant Reproduction  2010;23(2):95-103.
Rhizophora mucronata Lam. is a tropical mangrove with semi-viviparous (cotyledon body protrusion before shedding), non-quiescent and non-desiccating (recalcitrant) seeds. As recalcitrance has been thought to relate to the absence of desiccation-related proteins such as dehydrins, we for the first time systematically described and classified embryogenesis in R. mucronata and assessed the presence of dehydrin-like proteins. Embryogenesis largely follows the classic pattern till stage eight, the torpedo stage, with the formation of a cotyledonary body. Ovule and embryo express radical adaptations to semi-vivipary in the saline environment: (1) A large, highly vacuolated and persistent endosperm without noticeable food reserves that envelopes the developing embryo. (2) Absence of vascular tissue connections between embryo and maternal tissue, but, instead, transfer layers in between endosperm and integument and endosperm and embryo. Dehydrin-like proteins (55–65 kDa) were detected by the Western analysis, in the ovules till stage 10 when the integuments are dehisced. An additional 50 kDa band was detected at stages 6–8. Together these results suggest a continuous flow of water with nutrients from the integument via the endosperm to the embryo, circumventing the vascular route and probably suppressing the initially induced dehydrin expression.
PMCID: PMC2874033  PMID: 20084524
Dehydrins; Embryo development; Mangroves; Rhizophora mucronata; Semi-vivipary
20.  New insights into the tonoplast architecture of plant vacuoles and vacuolar dynamics during osmotic stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2005;5:13.
The vegetative plant vacuole occupies >90% of the volume in mature plant cells. Vacuoles play fundamental roles in adjusting cellular homeostasis and allowing cell growth. The composition of the vacuole and the regulation of its volume depend on the coordinated activities of the transporters and channels localized in the membrane (named tonoplast) surrounding the vacuole. While the tonoplast protein complexes are well studied, the tonoplast itself is less well described. To extend our knowledge of how the vacuole folds inside the plant cell, we present three-dimensional reconstructions of vacuoles from tobacco suspension cells expressing the tonoplast aquaporin fusion gene BobTIP26-1::gfp.
3-D reconstruction of the cell vacuole made possible an accurate analysis of large spanning folds of the vacuolar membrane under both normal and stressed conditions, and suggested interactions between surrounding plastids. Dynamic, high resolution 3-D pictures of the vacuole in tobacco suspension cells monitored under different growth conditions provide additional details about vacuolar architecture. The GFP-decorated vacuole is a single continuous compartment transected by tubular-like transvacuolar strands and large membrane surfaces. Cell culture under osmotic stress led to a complex vacuolar network with an increased tonoplast surface area. In-depth 3-D realistic inspections showed that the unity of the vacuole is maintained during acclimation to osmotic stress. Vacuolar unity exhibited during stress adaptation, coupled with the intimate associations of vacuoles with other organelles, suggests a physiological role for the vacuole in metabolism, and communication between the vacuole and organelles, respectively, in plant cells. Desiccation stress ensuing from PEG treatment generates "double" membrane structures closely linked to the tonoplast within the vacuole. These membrane structures may serve as membrane reservoirs for membrane reversion when cells are reintroduced to normal growth conditions.
3-D processing of a GFP-labeled tonoplast provides compelling visual constructions of the plant cell vacuole and elaborates on the nature of tonoplast folding and architecture. Furthermore, these methods allow real-time determination of membrane rearrangements during stresses.
PMCID: PMC1190192  PMID: 16080795
21.  Conditions favouring hard seededness as a dispersal and predator escape strategy 
The Journal of Ecology  2014;102(6):1475-1484.
The water-impermeable seed coat of ‘hard’ seeds is commonly considered a dormancy trait. Seed smell is, however, strongly correlated with seed water content, and hard seeds are therefore olfactionally cryptic to foraging rodents. This is the rationale for the crypsis hypothesis, which proposes that the primary functions of hard seeds are to reduce seed predation and promote rodent seed dispersal. We use a mechanistic model to describe seed survival success of plants with different dimorphic soft and hard seed strategies. The model is based on established empirical–ecological relationships of moisture requirements for germination and benefits of seed dispersal, and on experimentally demonstrated relationships between seed volatile emission, predation and predator escape. We find that water-impermeable seed coats can reduce seed predation under a wide range of natural humidity conditions. Plants with rodent dispersed seeds benefit from producing dimorphic soft and hard seeds at ratios where the anti-predator advantages of hard seeds are balanced by the dispersal benefits gained by producing some soft seeds. The seed pathway predicted from the model is similar to those of experimental seed-tracking studies. This validates the relevance and realism of the ecological mechanisms and relationships incorporated in the model. Synthesis. Rodent seed predators are often also important seed dispersers and have the potential to exert strong selective pressures on seeds to evolve methods of avoiding detection, and hard seeds seem to do just that. This work suggests that water-impermeable hard seeds may evolve in the absence of a dormancy function and that optimal seed survival in many environments with rodent seed predators is obtained by plants having a dimorphic soft and hard seed strategy.
PMCID: PMC4277852  PMID: 25558091
dispersal; granivore; mechanistic model; olfaction; physical dormancy; rodent; seed predation
22.  Effect of Temperature, Light and Salinity on Seed Germination and Radicle Growth of the Geographically Widespread Halophyte Shrub Halocnemum strobilaceum 
Annals of Botany  2007;101(2):293-299.
Background and Aims
The small leafy succulent shrub Halocnemum strobilaceum occurs in saline habitats from northern Africa and Mediterranean Europe to western Asia, and it is a dominant species in salt deserts such as those of north-west China. The effects of temperature, light/darkness and NaCl salinity were tested on seed germination, and the effects of salinity were tested on seed germination recovery, radicle growth and radicle elongation recovery, using seeds from north-west China; the results were compared with those previously reported on this species from ‘salt steppes’ in the Mediterranean region of Spain.
Seed germination was tested over a range of temperatures in light and in darkness and over a range of salinities at 25 °C in the light. Seeds that did not germinate in the NaCl solutions were tested for germination in deionized water. Seeds from which radicles had barely emerged in deionized water were transferred to NaCl solutions for 10 d and then back to deionized water for 10 d to test for radicle growth and recovery.
Key Results
Seeds germinated to higher percentages in light than in darkness and at high than at low temperatures. Germination percentages decreased with an increase in salinity from 0·1 to 0·75 m NaCl. Seeds that did not germinate in NaCl solutions did so after transfer to deionized water. Radicle elongation was increased by low salinity, and then it decreased with an increase in salinity, being completely inhibited by ≥2·0 m NaCl. Elongation of radicles from salt solutions <3·0 m resumed after seedlings were transferred to deionized water.
The seed and early seedling growth stages of the life cycle of H. strobilaceum are very salt tolerant, and their physiological responses differ somewhat between the Mediterranean ‘salt steppe’ of Spain and the inland cold salt desert of north-west China.
PMCID: PMC2711011  PMID: 17428834
Halocnemum strobilaceum; halophyte; inland salt desert; radicle growth; radicle growth recovery; seed germination; seed germination recovery
23.  Germination Ecophysiology of Annona crassiflora Seeds 
Annals of Botany  2007;99(5):823-830.
Background and Aims
Little is known about environmental factors that break morphophysiological dormancy in seeds of the Annonaceae and the mechanisms involved. The aim of this study was to characterize the morphological and physiological components of dormancy of Annona crassiflora, a tree species native to the Cerrado of Brazil, in an ecophysiological context.
Morphological and biochemical characteristics of both embryo and endosperm were monitored during dormancy break and germination at field conditions. Seeds were buried in the field and exhumed monthly for 2 years. Germination, embryo length and endosperm digestion, with endo-β-mannanase activity as a marker, were measured in exhumed seeds, and scanning electron microscopy was used to detect cell division. The effect of constant low and high temperatures and exogenous gibberellins on dormancy break and germination was also tested under laboratory conditions.
Key Results
After burial in April, A. crassiflora seeds lost their physiological dormancy in the winter months with lowest monthly average minimum temperatures (May–August) prior to the first rainfall of the wet season. The loss of physiological dormancy enabled initiation of embryo growth within the seed during the first 2 months of the rainy season (September–October), resulting in a germination peak in November. Embryo growth occurred mainly through cell expansion but some dividing cells were also observed. Endosperm digestion started at the micropylar side around the embryo and diffused to the rest of the endosperm. Exogenous gibberellins induced both embryo growth and endo-β-mannanase activity in dormant seeds.
The physiological dormancy component is broken by low temperature and/or temperature fluctuations preceding the rainy season. Subsequent embryo growth and digestion of the endosperm are both likely to be controlled by gibberellins synthesized during the breaking of physiological dormancy. Radicle protrusion thus occurred at the beginning of the rainy season, thereby maximizing the opportunity for seedlings to emerge and establish.
PMCID: PMC2802908  PMID: 17329406
Annonaceae; Annona crassiflora; embryo growth; endo-β-mannanase; morphophysiological dormancy; seed dormancy; seed germination
24.  Germination responses to temperature and water potential in Jatropha curcas seeds: a hydrotime model explains the difference between dormancy expression and dormancy induction at different incubation temperatures 
Annals of Botany  2011;109(1):265-273.
Background and Aims
Jatropha curcas is a drought-resistant tree whose seeds are a good source of oil that can be used for producing biodiesel. A successful crop establishment depends on a rapid and uniform germination of the seed. In this work we aimed to characterize the responses of J. curcas seeds to temperature and water availability, using thermal time and hydrotime analysis,
Thermal and hydrotime analysis was performed on germination data obtained from the incubation of seeds at different temperatures and at different water potentials.
Key Results
Base and optimum temperatures were 14·4 and 30 °C, respectively. Approximately 20 % of the seed population displayed absolute dormancy and part of it displayed relative dormancy which was progressively expressed in further fractions when incubation temperatures departed from 25 °C. The thermal time model, but not the hydrotime model, failed to describe adequately final germination percentages at temperatures other than 25 °C. The hydrotime constant, θH, was reduced when the incubation temperature was increased up to 30 °C, the base water potential for 50 % germination,Ψb(50), was less negative at 20 and 30 °C than at 25 °C, indicating either expression or induction of dormancy. At 20 °C this less negative Ψb(50) explained satisfactorily the germination curves obtained at all water potentials, while at 30 °C it had to be corrected towards even less negative values to match observed curves at water potentials below 0. Hence, Ψb(50) appeared to have been further displaced to less negative values as exposure to 30 °C was prolonged by osmoticum. These results suggest expression of dormancy at 20 °C and induction of secondary dormancy above 25 °C. This was confirmed by an experiment showing that inhibition of germination imposed by temperatures higher than 30 °C, but not that imposed at 20 °C, is a permanent effect.
This study revealed (a) the extremely narrow thermal range within which dormancy problems (either through expression or induction of dormancy) may not be encountered; and (b) the high sensitivity displayed by these seeds to water shortage. In addition, this work is the first one in which temperature effects on dormancy expression could be discriminated from those on dormancy induction using a hydrotime analysis.
PMCID: PMC3241573  PMID: 21917817
Jatropha curcas; Euphorbiaceae; seed germination; dormancy; thermal time; hydrotime; water potential
25.  Polyamines, IAA and ABA during germination in two recalcitrant seeds: Araucaria angustifolia (Gymnosperm) and Ocotea odorifera (Angiosperm) 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(2):337-345.
Background and Aims
Plant growth regulators play an important role in seed germination. However, much of the current knowledge about their function during seed germination was obtained using orthodox seeds as model systems, and there is a paucity of information about the role of plant growth regulators during germination of recalcitrant seeds. In the present work, two endangered woody species with recalcitrant seeds, Araucaria angustifolia (Gymnosperm) and Ocotea odorifera (Angiosperm), native to the Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil, were used to study the mobilization of polyamines (PAs), indole-acetic acid (IAA) and abscisic acid (ABA) during seed germination.
Data were sampled from embryos of O. odorifera and embryos and megagametophytes of A. angustifolia throughout the germination process. Biochemical analyses were carried out in HPLC.
Key Results
During seed germination, an increase in the (Spd + Spm) : Put ratio was recorded in embryos in both species. An increase in IAA and PA levels was also observed during seed germination in both embryos, while ABA levels showed a decrease in O. odorifera and an increase in A. angustifolia embryos throughout the period studied.
The (Spd + Spm) : Put ratio could be used as a marker for germination completion. The increase in IAA levels, prior to germination, could be associated with variations in PA content. The ABA mobilization observed in the embryos could represent a greater resistance to this hormone in recalcitrant seeds, in comparison to orthodox seeds, opening a new perspective for studies on the effects of this regulator in recalcitrant seeds. The gymnosperm seed, though without a connective tissue between megagametophyte and embryo, seems to be able to maintain communication between the tissues, based on the likely transport of plant growth regulators.
PMCID: PMC3143043  PMID: 21685432
Ocotea odorifera; Araucaria angustifolia; endangered species; polyamines; ABA; IAA; recalcitrant seeds; germination; embryo; megagametophyte; Angiosperm; Gymnosperm

Results 1-25 (635245)