ACC-derived ethylene production was used as an index of seed vigor of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), cabbage [Brassica oleracea (Capitata Group)], tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), and sweet corn (Zea mays L.) seeds. Seeds were aged at 40C and 93% relative humidity over saturated solution of KH2PO4 for various times to obtain seeds of differing vigor. Naturally aged lettuce seeds, differing in vigor, were also used. Depending on the seed type, 0.25 to 2 mm ACC (saturating dose) was needed to produce maximal amounts of ethylene. Seeds in the presence of ACC produced a much larger amount of ethylene than those in the absence of ACC, the ACC-derived ethylene could be detected before germination, and ACC had no adverse effect on germination. ACC-derived ethylene production paralleled vigor loss as determined by a decrease in percentage germination over a soak period required for complete germination of nonaged seeds (16 hours for lettuce, 24 hours for cabbage, and 48 hours for tomato and sweet corn), an increase in mean germination time (determined for lettuce only), and a decrease in seedling growth (determined for snap bean only). Second degree polynomial and logarithmic equations generated for the relationship of ACC-derived ethylene production to germination or growth parameters following seed aging, provided good to excellent fit. As a vigor test, the ACC-ethylene procedure has several advantages over the non-ACC ethylene procedure: It improves the sensitivity of the test by enhancing ethylene production, permits detection of small differences in vigor, and allows detection of ethylene before germination within a few hours of soaking. Chemical name used: 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC).
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