Wet-dry cycling extends seed persistence by re-instating antioxidant capacity

Seeds in the field experience wet-dry cycling that is akin to the well-studied commercial process of seed priming in which seeds are hydrated and then re-dried to standardise their germination characteristics. To investigate whether the persistence (defined as in situ longevity) and antioxidant capacity of seeds are influenced by wet-dry cycling, seeds of the global agronomic weed Avena sterilis ssp. ludoviciana were subjected to (1) controlled ageing at 60% relative humidity and 53.5°C for 31 days, (2) controlled ageing then priming, or (3) ageing in the field in three soils for 21 months. Changes in seed viability (total germination), mean germination time, seedling vigour (mean seedling length), and the concentrations of the glutathione (GSH) / glutathione disulphide (GSSG) redox couple were recorded over time. As controlled-aged seeds lost viability, GSH levels declined and the relative proportion of GSSG contributing to total glutathione increased, indicative of a failing antioxidant capacity. Subjecting seeds that were aged under controlled conditions to a wet-dry cycle (to −1 MPa) prevented viability loss and increased GSH levels. Field-aged seeds that underwent numerous wet-dry cycles due to natural rainfall maintained high viability and high GSH levels. Thus wet-dry cycles in the field may enhance seed longevity and persistence coincident with re-synthesis of protective compounds such as GSH.

Plant and soil, 338.1-2: 511-519.

Keywords: ageing, Avena sterilis ssp, glutathione, ludoviciana, priming, wet-dry cycling, wild oat

Publication Year: 2010

Authors: R Long, I Kranner, F Panetta, S Birtic, S Adkins, K Steadman

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