The development of hypoxia and primary injuries were examined during the imbibition of aging pea seeds (Pisum sativum L., cv. Nemchinovskii). The distribution of air-dry pea seeds by their room-temperature phosphorescence revealed the presence of two fractions (I and II) in a seed lot with 72% germinability and three fractions (I, II, and III) in a seed lot with 50% germinability. The water uptake during imbibition was slower in the fraction I seeds than in the fraction-II seeds. The fraction-I seeds produced normal seedlings, whereas the fraction-II seeds either produced seedlings with morphological defects (abnormal) or did not germinate at all. The fraction-III seeds were all dead. The phosphorescence of endogenous porphyrins, emitted only at low O2 content, was measured after 20-h seed imbibition. The fraction-I seeds emitted no discernible phosphorescence. The fraction-II comprised highly phosphorescent seeds incapable of radicle protrusion and moderately phosphorescent seeds producing abnormal seedlings. The fraction-II seeds experienced hypoxia during the imbibition because of rapid oxygen consumption by the embryo and restrictions to O2 diffusion imposed by the seed coat. In the fraction-I seeds, the rate of oxygen consumption by the embryo was slower and the seed coat resistance to oxygen diffusion was lower than in the fraction-II seeds. Therefore, hypoxia did not arise in the fraction-I seeds. The submergence of seeds in water caused lethal injuries. The imbibition of seeds without any contact with water caused no lethal damages but did not reduce the percentage of seeds dying of hypoxia. A slow imbibition of seeds in the media containing either an osmoticum (PEG) or an inhibitor of aquaporin channels (p-chloromercuribenzoate) prevented the lethal injuries at early stages of seed hydration and retarded the appearance of oxygen deficiency in fraction-II seeds. Different rates of water uptake by fraction-I and fraction-II seeds were controlled by permeability of cell membranes rather than by permeability of seed coat. It is proposed that low permeability of plasma membranes to water in fraction-I seeds results from the predominantly closed aquaporin channels, whereas a higher permeability of weak seeds (fraction II) is due to open channels.
Russian Journal of Plant Physiology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 17, 2004
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