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John A. Juvik, Maurice C. Jangulo, John M. Headrick, Jerald K. Pataky, and William F. Tracy

Abbreviations: PDA, potato dextrose agar; sh2, shrunken2; su, sugury1. This research was supported by the United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) grant no. US-1709-89, the Illinois Agricultural Experiment

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Carlos A. Parera and Daniel J. Cantliffe

Abbreviations: CNS-711, `Crisp N' Sweet 711'; HSII, `How Sweet It Is'; sh2, shrunken-2; SMP, solid matrix priming. Univ. of Florida Agricultural Experimental Station Journal Series no. R-01320. We acknowledge useful discussions with J.D. Eastin

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Carlos A. Parera, Daniel J. Cantliffe, D.R. McCarty, and L. Curtis Hannah

The shrunken-2 (sh2) mutant of maize (Zea mays L.) increases sucrose and reduces starch in developing endosperm. An associated trait is poor seed and seedling vigor in seeds containing the mutation. The specific effects of sh2 mutant endosperm on embryo and seedling vigor were determined by analyzing seeds that contained either concordant wild-type or nonconcordant combinations of mutant and wild-type embryo and endosperm genotypes. The nonconcordant seed types that contained a wild-type embryo in association with a sh2 mutant endosperm or a sh2 mutant embryo in association with a wild-type endosperm were generated using the TB-3La translocation chromosome in which a wild-type Sh2 gene is attached to the centromeric portion of a B chromosome. Under stress conditions (complex stress vigor test), the seeds with mutant endosperm had lower germination, seedling fresh and dry weight, and index of conductivity than seeds with wild-type endosperm. Mutant endosperm and embryos excised from mutant endosperm imbibed more water than wild-type endosperm or embryos excised from wild-type endosperm. Because of the high concentration of osmotic solutes in the mutant endosperm, a rapid water uptake may induce a membrane disorganization. Leachate conductivities of seeds with mutant endosperm were higher than seeds with wild-type endosperm. In addition, a higher sucrose content and a lower raffinose to sucrose ratio were measured in the wild-type embryos associated with mutant endosperms than in the normal embryos excised from concordant wild-type seeds. These results suggest that a high rate of water uptake caused by the elevated concentration of osmotic solutes in seeds with mutant endosperms may affect membrane integrity during imbibition. Alternatively, the lower raffinose to sucrose ratio present in the mutant endosperm class might affect stabilization of cell membranes during seed desiccation. Embryos cultured in media containing 10% starch or no carbohydrate produced smaller seedlings than embryos cultured in 5% or 10% sucrose. Wild-type embryos excised from mutant endosperms exhibited lower germination in 0% and 5% sucrose media than embryos from concordant seed, indicating that reduced water uptake rates associated with lower external osmotic potential (10% sucrose) can improve vigor of embryos associated with sh2 mutant endosperm. The reduced vigor of embryos and seedlings that develop in association with sh2 mutant endosperm can be traced to the physiological and biochemical effects of the elevated sucrose levels present during seed formation and imbibition.

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Vincent A. Fritz and James B. Hebel

Germination and stand establishment of shrunken-2 sweet corn is a major production-related problem, particularly during early spring in the upper Midwest U.S. Several potential physical and physiological factors have been identified as contributors to poor stand establishment. Poor pericarp integrity and high sucrose levels may lead to non-uniform moisturization and imbibitional injury. Studies were conducted to determine if the use of “controlled moisturization” preplant treatments reduced imbibitional injury and improved germination and seedling vigor. Both laboratory and field results will be discussed.

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Tina Wilson, Robert Geneve, and Brent Rowell

Mutant endosperm associated with shrunken-2 sweet corn possesses a high osmotic potential that increases the rate of imbibition. Membrane damage associated with the rapid influx of water during imbibition can play a role in the poor emergence and seedling vigor associated with sweet corn germination. Film-coating as a seed treatment has been used to improve germination and vigor in sweet corn. This improvement may be associated with alterations in the kinetics of imbibition. Two seed lots of shrunken-2 sweet corn, low-vigor `Even Sweeter' and high vigor `Sugar Bowl', were treated with a polymer film-coating and evaluated for differences in water uptake. Imbibition curves were established for nontreated and film-coated seeds. Seeds were weighed every hour for 6 hours and showed a significant difference between the two treatments in fresh weight for both cultivars. This pattern continues throughout the imbibition phase of germination and continues into the lag period. Bulk conductivity tests resulted in no significant mean difference between untreated and film treated seeds after 24 hours. Film treatment assumes characteristics of a hydrophilic polymer. Electrolyte leakage is not reduced and imbibition rate increases by 18% for both varieties of film-coated seeds.

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Alicia M. Borowski, Vincent A. Fritz, and Luther Waters Jr.

This study was conducted to determine if changes in the raffinose: sucrose ratio in embryos of shrunken-2 sweet corn (Zea mays L.) hybrids were related to differences in seed leachate conductivity between two hybrids harvested at four maturities and artificially dried to 0.10 g H2O/g fresh weight. The ratio of raffinose: sucrose differed for `Crisp N' Sweet 710' (CNS) and `How Sweet It Is' (HSII). The mass ratio of raffinose: sucrose in CNS was >0.3 in seed harvested between 0.44 to 0.64 g H2O/g fresh weight and increased as seed dried from the initial harvest moisture to 0.10 g H2O/g fresh weight. Raffinose: sucrose ratios of HSII were <0.3 at all harvests between 0.55 to 0.72 g H2O/g fresh weight, but changes during desiccation were not as pronounced. Leachate conductivity of whole seeds of CNS and HSII decreased as seeds were harvested at progressively lower moisture contents. We suggest that a higher raffinose: sucrose ratio may be indicative of increased seed vigor in shrunken-2 hybrids.

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Patricia E. Hung, Vincent A. Fritz, Thor Kommedahl, Albert H. Markhart III, and Luther Waters Jr.

Experiments were conducted to determine if the fungicide imazalil infused into shrunken-2 sweet corn (Zea mays L. var. rugosa Bonaf.) seed via acetone could protect against soil- and seedborne fungi enough to improve germination and vigor. `Florida Staysweet' and `Crisp-n-Sweet 710' seeds were infused for 0.25 hours with 1% or 2% (w/w) imazalil-acetone (LA) solutions, air-dried, and subjected to a modified laboratory seedling growth cold test using sterile soil or soil inoculated with Fusarium moniliforme Sheldon. Both IA concentrations significantly reduced the incidence of diseased seedlings in soil inoculated with F. moniliforme when compared to nontreated controls. Neither treatment significantly reduced the incidence of seedborne fungi. Chemical name used: 1-[2-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-2-(2-propenyloxy)ethyl-H-imidazole (imazalil).

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Tina Wilson, Robert Geneve, and Brent Rowell

One possible influence film-coating may have on seeds is modifying water uptake and electrolyte leaking during imibibition. Film-coating is a seed treatment that can improve sweet corn germination, especially under cold soil conditions. Two shrunken-2 sweet corn varieties (`Even Sweeter' and `Sugar Bowl') were treated with a polymer film-coating and evaluated for water uptake patterns during imibibition. `Even Sweeter' is a low-vigor sweet corn, while `Sugar Bowl' is a high-vigor variety. Standard germination tests were performed according to AOSA rules and suggest film-coated seeds germinated at a slower rate than untreated seeds. After 4 days of imibibition, `Sugar Bowl' film-coated seeds had 5% germination, while untreated seeds had ≈20% germination. However, after 7 days, film-coated seeds had 94% germination with untreated seeds at 80% germination. Results were similar for `Even Sweeter'. Bulk electrical conductivity readings were taken over 24 h to determine the amount of electrolyte leakage during imibibition. Low-vigor `Even Sweeter' had 92% higher overall leakage than high-vigor `Sugar Bowl'. Additional conductivity readings were taken for both seed lots every 2 h for 12 h. Film-treated seeds leaked 15% less than untreated seeds for `Sugar Bowl'. However, `Even Sweeter' film-coated seeds actually leaked 17% more than the untreated seeds. In both cases, 70% of electrolyte leakage occurred within the first 12 h of imibibition. An imibibition curve was established for the two seed lots comparing untreated and film-coated seeds. During the first 6 h of water uptake, film-treated seeds weighed ≈50% more than the untreated seeds for both `Even Sweeter' and `Sugar Bowl'. Pathways for water uptake as influenced by film-coating shrunken-2 seeds will also be presented.

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I.L. Goldman and W.F. Tracy

Changes in endosperm type used for commercial sweet corn (Zea mays L.) production may affect corn protein levels. The two most widely used endosperm types are sugary-1 (su1) and shrunken-2 (sh2). To determine the effects of endosperm type on protein concentration, we calculated kernel N concentrations of dry mature kernels of seven inbreds near-isogenic for su1 and sh2 and of four samples of commercially canned su1 and sh2 sweet corn. Nitrogen values were converted to protein values using a standard conversion factor for maize. For the dry kernels and the canned samples, significant differences were detected between endosperm types for kernel protein concentration when measured on a weight basis. Averaged overall inbreds, the sh2 dry kernels had 30% more protein than su1 kernels. On a weight basis, the sh2 canned samples averaged 22% more protein than the su1 samples. When compared on a kernel basis, protein concentration of the two endosperm types did not differ. Thus, sh2 sweet corn marketed as a frozen or canned product may be identified as a higher protein product when the serving size is based on weight or calories.

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Patricia E. Hung, Vincent A. Fritz, and Luther Waters Jr.

Sweet corn (Zea mays L. var. rugosa Bonaf.) seed carrying the mutant endosperm gene shrunken-2 (sh2) are very susceptible to seed rot and pre- and post-emergence damping off. Experiments were conducted to determine if selected organic solvents were suitable carriers for fungicide infusion of sh2 sweet corn seed for improved germination and stand establishment. Seed of `Florida Staysweet' and `Crisp-n-Sweet 710' were immersed in acetone, cyclohexane, decahydronaphthalene (Decalin), dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), ethanol, or xylene for 5 seconds, 0.25, 0.50, 1.0, 2.0, 4.0, or 8.0 hours, air-dried, and subjected to a cold-stress test. Total germination and percentage of normal seedlings in both cultivars were significantly decreased after 8 hours of immersion in acetone. Average seedling dry weight, however, did not decrease. DMSO was highly toxic to both cultivars. Ethanol increased seed mortality with increasing immersion times. Cyclohexane, Decalin, and xylene caused erratic responses in all measured variables as immersion time increased. In a second experiment, the effects of immersion time up to 4 hours in acetone on germination and vigor of 11 sh2 cultivars were compared. There was no correlation between cultivar germination or vigor and immersion in acetone. Results indicate acetone could be used to infuse fungicides into the seed of some sh2 cultivars without compromising seed germination or vigor. However, each sh2 cultivar must be screened individually to determine if it is a suitable candidate for organic solvent infusion of fungicides.