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Priming sweet corn for enhanced germination in cold soils
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The priming of seed is a process in which the seeds are placed in an osmotic solution for a determined period of time, dried down to original moisture content, then germinated. The osmotic solution, primarily glucose in this study, restricts the availability of water to the seed bringing it to a point just before, yet preventing, radicle emergence. Upon drying down, the seeds are at the same phase in the germination process, so upon contact with water the seeds germinate immediately and synchronously. The objectives of this study were twofold. First, to compare different osmotica as the priming solution, different oxygen concentrations in aerating the priming solution, and different durations of the priming process. Second, to determine what metabolic activities in the seed are affected by priming, especially those dealing with respiration and certain enzyme-catalyzed processes. Sweet corn 'Even Sweeter' is a mutant of the wild type Zea mays L. at the shrunken-2 loci. Seeds were primed with or without a 400 mM glucose solution (-I.O and 0.0 NTa respectively) while no aeration (stagnant) or 0, 4, 21 or 40% (v/v) oxygen for I and 2 days. Primed seeds germinated faster and had a higher final percent germination than controls. Significant differences were found within the treatments, and especially between the treatments and the unprimed control. The effectiveness of the priming treatment depended on the osmotic potential of the solution, the percent of oxygen used for aeration, and the duration of priming. In general, seeds germinated better when primed at lower oxygen concentrations. Total seed germination and speed of germination was determined. Seeds primed in lower osmotic potentials and higher oxygen concentrations germinated faster, whereas the treatments in higher osmotic potentials and lower oxygen concentrations had the highest percent germination. Seeds were metabolically active during the priming process. Respiration and alcohol dehydrogenase activity of seeds were measured during priming and compared to germinating seeds. Seeds primed at 0% oxygen had greater C02 evolution and alcohol dehydrogenase activity compared with seeds primed at 2 1 % or 40% oxygen, suggesting an increase in glycolysis and fermentation at the lower concentrations. Priming in a stagnant solution (5-10% oxygen), however, resulted in a decrease in these processes.
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Barbato, Della Beth (1993). Priming sweet corn for enhanced germination in cold soils. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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