Siberian C peach (Prunus persica L.) seeds were stratified at 5 and 20C. DWs and soluble protein content remained constant regardless of stratification temperature and duration. Seed extracts subjected to sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis revealed a decrease in the intensity of nine polypeptides in the cotyledons of seeds held at 5C during weeks 5 through 8, coinciding with an increase in germination capacity. These changes were confined to cotyledons held at 5C, and were observed only when the seeds were able to germinate. The effects of stratification and the imbibition degree on changes in the protein content of seeds of two additional peach biotypes (`Farouki' and `Maloussi') were also evaluated. Germination of fully imbibed seeds at 20C increased steadily as stratification time at 5C increased. Partially imbibed seeds (25 % or 50% of full imbibition) did not germinate regardless of stratification time. However, when these seeds were soaked in water after stratification, their germination paralleled that of fully imbibed seeds. Thus, dormancy was broken, even though the seeds could not germinate. Changes in protein profiles in fully imbibed seeds confirmed those previously reported for Siberian C seeds. Similar changes occurred in cotyledons of partially imbibed seeds during stratification at 5C, but at a slower rate. Those changes were, however, delayed by partial imbibition, whereas germination capacity (ability to germinate when fully imbibed) was not. Changes in cotyledon protein profiles were not affected by removing the embryonic axis before stratification, a result indicating that such changes are not controlled by the axis. Gibberellic acid (GA3 induced 35 % to 40% germination of nonchilled seeds. It hastened the loss of protein band intensity in `Farouki' but not in `Maloussi'. However, GA3-treated seeds germinated before any visible changes occurred in protein profiles. We conclude that the effects of chilling on breaking dormancy are independent of its effects on the protein changes observed in this study.
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