The low quality of some seed lots received by germplasm repositories such as the National Seed Storage Laboratory can thwart efforts to regenerate seed for storage. This germplasm is in danger of irretrievable loss. The aim of this work is to promote the germination, and hence regeneration, of such low quality seeds through sterile culture of the isolated embryos. Hybrid (B73×LH51) maize seeds were aged 5 y at 32°C and 0.037 g H2O g-1 dry wt. Vigor - but not viability -declined under these conditions. The effects of four factors on growth and germination were systematically examined. These were: seed pretreatments; antibiotics and fungicides; nutrients; and growth substances. Amongst the pretreatments, none surpassed partial hydration of seeds for 24 hr to 0.55 g H2O g-1 dry wt at 25°C prior to embryo dissection. Thiram (2.4 mg mL-1) and kanamycin (50 ug ml1) effectively controlled bacterial and fungal growth with no deleterious effects on growth during culture of the isolated embryos. Exogenous sucrose (optimum 5 % wt/vol) significantly stimulated radicle growth in both deteriorated and non-deteriorated embryos. No other organic or inorganic nutrient stimulated growth. Naphthalene acetic acid did not affect growth while kinetin reduced radicle growth and stimulated coleoptile growth. Gibberellic acid (GA3 at 10-5M) significantly stimulated radicle growth in deteriorated embryos, whereas it promoted coleoptile growth in both deteriorated and non-deteriorated embryos. These data suggest GA or a GA-stimulated process may limit the growth of aged embryos.
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