Experiments with germinating seeds of Wayne soybean ( Glycine max Merr.) show that between the 4th and the 8th hour of germination, respiration experiences a transition from predominantly “alternate” respiration, which is sensitive to salicylhydroxamic acid, to a cyanide-sensitive respiration. The dependence of early germination stages on alternate respiration is reflected in several types of seed functions, including subsequent root growth rate, chlorophyll synthesis, and germination itself. The early period of germination is shown to require a normal O 2 tension, which is no longer a requirement at later stages. The changing sensitivity to cyanide and to salicylhydroxamic acid is found to be common to seven different types of germinating seeds. It is proposed that the alternate pathway of respiration provides something essential for the completion of the earliest stages of seed germination.
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