Germinating `Poinsett 76' cucumber (Cucumis sativus) seeds are chilling sensitive, and subsequent radicle elongation is inhibited by exposure to nonfreezing temperatures below 10 °C. Reorienting germinated seeds with 5-mm-long radicles from a vertical to a horizontal position induced gravitropic curvature within 2 hours at 10 to 25 °C without significantly affecting the rate of radicle elongation. However, neither elongation nor curvature occurred in similar seeds held at 2.5 or 5 °C. Chilling seeds with 5-mm-long radicles at 2.5 °C for 18 hours significantly reduced the subsequent rate of radicle elongation at 25 °C by 47% compared with nonchilled control, while gravitropic curvature was reduced by only 34%. After 36 hours of recovery at 25 °C, the difference was even more pronounced; elongation was reduced by 26% while curvature was reduced by only 6%. Clearly, gravitropic curvature was less chilling sensitive than radicle elongation, despite the fact that differential elongation of cells in the radicle are needed to produce curvature. Exposing seeds with 5-mm-long radicles to a heat shock of 45 °C for 4 to 10 minutes significantly diminished the chilling-induced reduction in radicle elongation and gravitropic curvature.
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