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G.B. McClure and N.S. Lang

Interconversions of seed storage reserves during osmoconditioning (controlled imbibition of water) may influence seed performance under suboptimal conditions. Sweet corn (Zen mays L. cv. Florida Staysweet) storage reserve changes were examined during osmoconditioning in relation to seed germination performance. Seeds were osmoconditioned in two experiments using distilled water (duration 3, 6, 9, 12, and 24 h) and polyethylene glycol 8000 solutions (0, .5, and 1.0 MPa for 12, 24, 48, 72 and 96 h). Germination performance was evaluated at 10 and 25C, and seed moisture, carbohydrate, and protein concentrations were quantified at each water potential x duration combination. Germination performance was not significantly improved by any treatment at 25C. Germination percentage at 10C was increased 10% for seeds osmoconditioned for 24 h in distilled water, and time to germination was decreased 50%. For seeds osmoconditioned 12 and 48 h at .5 and 1.0 MPa, respectively, germination percentage at 10C was increased 15%. Time to germination was reduced 50% for seeds osmoconditioned at .5 and 1.0 MPa after 48 and 96 h, respectively. Starch levels increased for seeds osmoconditioned at higher water potentials, but remained the same or decreased at lower water potentials.

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T.K. Danneberger, M.B. McDonald Jr., C.A. Geron, and P. Kumari

This study evaluates the effects of seed osmoconditioning on germination and seedling growth of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). Seeds were osmoconditioned in polyethylene glycol 8000 with water potentials ranging from 0 to -1.4 MPa for 48 hours. Osmoconditioning for this crop at -1.1 MPa resulted in a 35% germination increase after 48 hours under optimum (15/25C) germination conditions. This promotive effect was observed until 104 hours for percentage germination and root growth and 118 hours for shoot growth. Rate of seed germination and seedling root growth of osmoconditioned seeds also was enhanced when seeds were placed under suboptimum germination temperatures of 5, 10, and 15C. These results suggest that while osmoconditioning enhanced initial germination rate and seedling root growth under laboratory conditions, it did not do so under prolonged favorable conditions. However, the promotive effects of osmoconditioning were more beneficial when seeds were exposed to less favorable germination conditions.

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Sharon A. Duray and Fred T. Davies Jr.

A laboratory exercise is outlined and discussed for seed priming, or osmoconditioning. The exercise was developed using an easily constructed and inexpensive seed-priming system. A variety of horticultural seeds can be used to give students experience and exposure to some of the benefits of seed priming. Seed germination data usually can be obtained within 6 to 8 days, depending on the species used. The laboratory may be modified to stress various features of seed priming, including priming agents, optimal concentrations, and ranges of germination temperatures.

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Rufaro Madakadze, Ellen M. Chirco, and Anwar A. Khan

The effect of preplant conditioning on germination of three flower seeds, Bupleurum griffithii (Tourn.) L. (thorough-wax), Ammi majus L. (greater ammi), and Cirsium japonicum DC. Per. (Japanese thistle), were studied. Seeds were osmoconditioned with -1.2 MPa polyethylene glycol 8000 (PEG) solution and matriconditioned with moist Micro-Cel E (ratio of 2 seed: 0.6 carrier: 3 water by weight for Bupleurum and Cirsium; for Ammi the ratio was 2:1.4:6) and moist expanded vermiculite #5 (the ratio was of 2 seed: 0.6 carrier: 2 water for Bupleurum). In some treatments, water in the matriconditioning mixture was replaced with 1 mm gibberellin A4+7 (GA) or 0.2 % KNO3. In Bupleurum, matriconditioning with Micro-Cel E was generally superior to matriconditioning with vermiculite or osmoconditioning with PEG. A 4-day matriconditioning with Micro-Cel E and germination in the dark reduced the period required for 50% (T50 of final germination by 4 days and improved the percentage germination at 20C (73 % vs. 95%), compared to nonconditioned seeds germinated in the dark. The treatment also improved the percentage of germination at 15C (68% vs. 95%) and effectively removed the thermoinhibition of germination at 25 and 30C. Germination was inhibited to a greater extent for seeds kept in the light during matriconditioning and germination than for seeds conditioned in darkness and germinated in light or conditioned in light and germinated in darkness. Nitrate added during conditioning in light prevented inhibition of germination, provided seeds were kept in darkness during germination. In A. majus, germination in light after 4-day matriconditioning reduced the T50 by ≈2 days, but had little effect on percentage germination. Both GA and irradiance equally promoted germination when added during osmoconditioning, with nitrate having no effect. In C. japonicum, a 4-day matriconditioning or a 7-day osmoconditioning reduced the T50 of germination by -2 days and improved the percentage germination to some extent. Neither irradiance nor nitrate had any significant effect.

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N. Wartidiningsih, R.L. Geneve, and S.T. Kester

High germination seed lots of purple coneflower [Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench] were evaluated for laboratory germination following osmotic priming or chilling stratification. Compared to nontreated seeds, osmotic priming at 25C in salts (KNO3 + K3PO4; 1:1, w/w) or polyethylene glycol 4000 (PEG) increased early (3-day) germination percentage at 27C of all seed lots, and improved total (10-day) germination percentage of low-germination seed lots. Total germination percentage was unaffected or increased by priming for 4 days compared to 8 days, and by priming at –1.0 MPa compared to –0.5 MPa (except for one low-germination seed lot). Chilling stratification in water at 5 or 10C increased early and total germination of all seed lots, except for that same lot, compared to nontreated seeds. Total germination percentage was unaffected or increased by stratification at 10C rather than at 5C. Neither extending stratification ≥20 days nor lowering osmotic potential with PEG during stratification improved total germination percentage.

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Dina Margaret Samfield, Jayne M. Zajicek, and B. Greg Cobb

Seeds of tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata L.) and purple coneflower [Echinacea purpureo (L.) Moench] were primed in aerated solutions of a 50 mm potassium phosphate buffer at 16C. C. lanceolata seeds were primed for 3 or 6 days; E. purpurea seeds were primed for 6 or 9 days. Seeds were vacuum-stored for 2 months immediately after priming. Identical treatments were imposed on open-stored seeds just before the termination of the storage duration, thus producing four treatments: a vacuum-stored control, an open-stored control, primed vacuum-stored seed, and seed primed after open storage. Although priming significantly improved the performance of C. lanceolata seed, vacuum storage alone also significantly increased the speed of germination and final germination. The advantage of priming was diminished during 2 months of vacuum storage of E. purpurea, but priming enhanced germination as compared with the open-stored nonprimed control. There was little difference between the performance of E. purpurea seeds both primed and vacuum-stored. and the vacuum-stored control.

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Patrick T. Smith and B. Greg Cobb

Sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum L. cv. Keystone Resistant Giant #3) seeds were imbibed (primed) in salt solutions to determine a) what concentrations would inhibit radicle emergence and b) the influence this delay in radicle emergence would have on subsequent germination. Seeds were primed for 17 days at 23C in petri dishes with KNO3, KCl, NaCl, K2SO4, Na2SO4, 1 NaCl: 1 CaCl2 (mol/mol), Ca(NO3)2, CaCl2, Na2HPO4, and K2HPO4 in 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, or 300 mm of the salts. Germination was not inhibited in the 10- to 100-mm salt range, although most 200- and all 300-mm solutions reduced radicle emergence to <5.0%. The time to 50% germination (T50) of these primed seeds in water significantly (P < 0.01) decreased, when compared to unprimed seeds, and a negative correlation (r = – 0.98) was observed between this reduction and the osmotic potential of the solutions. Solutions with the highest osmotic potentials most severely reduced T50 without reducing the final germination percentage. For seeds primed in K2SO4 or Na2SO4 (200 and 300 mm) through 18 days, the reduction in T50 and duration of priming were negatively correlated (r = - 0.99). Seeds soaked in double distilled water and then dried germinated faster than controls, but not as fast as seeds primed in salt solutions. Priming of pepper seeds in this study was dependent on the osmotic potential of the solution, rather than a specific salt, and the duration of treatment.

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Terry L. Finnerty, Jayne M. Zajicek, and Mark A. Hussey

Seeds of three columbine species, Aquilegia caerulea James, Aquilegia canadensis L., and Aquilegia hinckleyana Munz., were studied to determine if seed priming can be used to enhance or completely bypass stratification. The effect of priming varied among species. Germination percentage of nonstratified, primed seed of A. caerulea was as high as nonprimed stratified seed at the termination of the study. Nonstratified primed seeds of A. canadensis did not perform as well as stratified seed, but priming did enhance the germination percentage of stratified seed. Priming had no effect on seed germination–of A. hinckleyana.

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Ahmet Esitken, Sezai Ercisli, Cafer Eken, and David Tay

Seeds of Orchis palustris Jacq. were primed for 1- to 5-day in polyethylene glycol (PEG-6000) solutions at -0.5, -1.0 or -1.5 MPa. The seeds were symbiotically germinated with BNR 8-3 mycorrhizal fungus on oatmeal agar at 22 °C. In general, priming hastened rapid germination. At -1.5 MPa water potential, the first to germinate was eight days compared to 18 days for the control. Percentage germination increased as priming water potential decreased, and the percentage germination was 55%, 58%, and 65%, at -0.5, -1.0, and -1.5 MPa, respectively, versus 43% for the nonprimed control. Priming duration from 1 to 5 days had little effect on germination performance. The best germination percentage (68%) was obtained from 1 day at -1.5 MPa treatment.