Oxidative stress and seed survival

  • Christopher Wood

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Free radical and aldehydic breakdown product content were determined, by EPR and UV / visible spectroscopy, primarily in intermediate (desiccation tolerant) seeds of Carica papaya L. (Papaya) and recalcitrant (desiccation intolerant) seeds of Aesculus hippocastanum L. (Horse chestnut), but also in other species covering a range of desiccation tolerances, with a view to determining the role of oxidative stress as a diagnostic marker for desiccation tolerance.
    Axes of non-senescent highly viable recalcitrant seeds of horse chestnut were metabolically active, contained products of lipid peroxidation, displayed low levels of enzymatic protection against activated oxygen and peroxides, and a two-peak free radical EPR signal. During fully hydrated storage at 16 °C for up to 18 months, seeds exhibited, sequentially, an increase in germination rate, a transient increase in intensities of both the low field and high field EPR peaks, a significant increase in membrane leakage and decrease in seed viability, germination rate, and SOD and peroxidase activities. Drying ‘unstored’ seeds below and embryonic axis moisture content of 40 to 50 % initiated viability loss. At < 25 % moisture content all axes were inviable and displayed a 2- to 4-fold increase in solute leakage, lipid peroxidation products and the low field EPR signal. Seed desiccation sensitivity increased with hydrated storage. The accumulation of lipid peroxidation products and free radicals on drying generally occurred to a greater extent, or at a higher moisture content, than observed with unstored seeds. The results indicate a mediating role for oxidative stress in recalcitrant seed viability loss which is differentially expressed during hydrated, ‘natural’ ageing and desiccation. Similar trends were seen in other recalcitrant species with the increase in lipid peroxidation products occurring around the point of viability loss. However the study of a more orthodox species (papaya) revealed no such trends.
    Date of AwardOct 1998
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsScottish Crop Research Institute & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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