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1.  Developmental changes in the germinability, desiccation tolerance, hardseededness, and longevity of individual seeds of Trifolium ambiguum 
Annals of Botany  2010;105(6):1035-1052.
Background and Aims
Using two parental clones of outcrossing Trifolium ambiguum as a potential model system, we examined how during seed development the maternal parent, number of seeds per pod, seed position within the pod, and pod position within the inflorescence influenced individual seed fresh weight, dry weight, water content, germinability, desiccation tolerance, hardseededness, and subsequent longevity of individual seeds.
Near simultaneous, manual reciprocal crosses were carried out between clonal lines for two experiments. Infructescences were harvested at intervals during seed development. Each individual seed was weighed and then used to determine dry weight or one of the physiological behaviour traits.
Key Results
Whilst population mass maturity was reached at 33–36 days after pollination (DAP), seed-to-seed variation in maximum seed dry weight, when it was achieved, and when maturation drying commenced, was considerable. Individual seeds acquired germinability between 14 and 44 DAP, desiccation tolerance between 30 and 40 DAP, and the capability to become hardseeded between 30 and 47 DAP. The time for viability to fall to 50 % (p50) at 60 % relative humidity and 45 °C increased between 36 and 56 DAP, when the seed coats of most individuals had become dark orange, but declined thereafter. Individual seed f. wt at harvest did not correlate with air-dry storage survival period. Analysing survival data for cohorts of seeds reduced the standard deviation of the normal distribution of seed deaths in time, but no sub-population showed complete uniformity of survival period.
Variation in individual seed behaviours within a developing population is inherent and inevitable. In this outbreeder, there is significant variation in seed longevity which appears dependent on embryo genotype with little effect of maternal genotype or architectural factors.
PMCID: PMC2876000  PMID: 20228084
Seed development; seed-to-seed variation; seed longevity; seed coat colour; cohort and population measurements; model system; Trifolium ambiguum
2.  Priming and re-drying improve the survival of mature seeds of Digitalis purpurea during storage 
Annals of Botany  2009;103(8):1261-1270.
Background and Aims
Most priming studies have been conducted on commercial seed lots of unspecified uniformity and maturity, and subsequent seed longevity has been reported to both increase and decrease. Here a seed lot of Digitalis purpurea L. with relatively uniform maturity and known history was used to analyse the effects of priming on seed longevity in air-dry storage.
Seeds collected close to natural dispersal and dried at 15 % relative humidity (RH), 15 °C, were placed into experimental storage (60 % RH, 45 °C) for 14 or 28 d, primed for 48 h at 0, −1, −2, −5, −10 or −15 MPa, re-equilibrated (47 % RH, 20 °C) and then returned to storage. Further seed samples were primed for 2 or 48 h at −1 MPa and either dried at 15 % RH, 15 °C or immediately re-equilibrated for experimental storage. Finally, some seeds were given up to three cycles of experimental storage and priming (48 h at −1 MPa).
Key Results
Priming at −1 MPa had a variable effect on subsequent survival during experimental storage. The shortest lived seeds in the control population showed slightly increased life spans; the longer lived seeds showed reduced life spans. In contrast, seeds first stored for 14 or 28 d before priming had substantially increased life spans. The increase tended to be greatest in the shortest lived fraction of the seed population. Both the period of rehydration and the subsequent drying conditions had significant effects on longevity. Interrupting air-dry storage with additional cycles of priming also increased longevity.
The extent of prior deterioration and the post-priming desiccation environment affect the benefits of priming to the subsequent survival of mature seeds. Rehydration–dehydration treatments may have potential as an adjunct or alternative to the regeneration of seed accessions maintained in gene banks for plant biodiversity conservation or plant breeding.
PMCID: PMC2685324  PMID: 19304995
Digitalis purpurea; priming; re-drying; seed longevity; seed storage; ageing
3.  Post-abscission, pre-dispersal seeds of Digitalis purpurea remain in a developmental state that is not terminated by desiccation ex planta 
Annals of Botany  2009;103(5):785-794.
Background and Aims
Seed quality may be compromised if seeds are harvested before natural dispersal (shedding). It has been shown previously that slow or delayed drying can increase potential quality compared with immediate rapid drying. This study set out to investigate whether or not there is a critical moisture content, below which drying terminates maturation events for seeds harvested after mass maturity but before dispersal.
Seeds of foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) in the post-abscission pre-dispersal phase were held at between 15 and 95 % RH for 4 or 8 d, with or without re-hydration to 95 % RH for a further 4 d, before drying to equilibrium at 15 % RH. In addition, dry seeds were primed for 48 h at −1 MPa. Subsequent seed longevity was assessed at 60 % RH and 45 °C.
Key Results
Rate of germination and longevity were improved by holding seeds at a wide range of humidities after harvest. Longevity was further improved by re-hydration at 95 % RH. Priming improved the longevity of the seeds dried immediately after harvest, but not of those first held at 95 % RH for 8 d prior to drying.
Maturation continued ex planta in these post-abscission, pre-dispersal seeds of D. purpurea dried at 15–80 % RH at a rate correlated positively with RH (cf. ageing of mature seeds). Subsequent re-hydration at 95 % RH enabled a further improvement in quality. Priming seeds initially stored air-dry for 3 months also allowed maturation events to resume. However, once individual seeds within the population had reached maximum longevity, priming had a negative impact on their subsequent survival.
PMCID: PMC2707866  PMID: 19136494
Digitalis purpurea; seed development; post-harvest treatment; priming; longevity; ex situ conservation
4.  The encyclopaedia of seeds: science, technology and uses 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(6):828-1379.
PMCID: PMC2759264

Results 1-6 (6)