Primed Lettuce Seeds Exhibit Increased Sensitivity to Moisture During Controlled Deterioration

H.J. Hill and Jesse D. Cunningham
Seed Dynamics, Inc.

Kent J. Bradford
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis

A.G. Taylor
Department of Horticultural Sciences, NYSAES, Cornell University


The Ellis-Roberts seed viability equation is used to predict seed survival after storage at specified temperatures and moisture contents. Seed priming, which can break dormancy and accelerate germination, can also reduce seed storage life. Because primed seeds were not used in developing the Ellis-Roberts equation, the reciprocal nature of specific seed moisture content (MC, fresh weight basis) and temperatures that applies to nonprimed lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) seeds may not apply to primed seeds. To determine how priming affects lettuce seeds in relation to the viability equation, an experiment was conducted using two cultivars, ‘Big Ben’ and ‘Parris Island Cos’. Seeds primed in polyethylene glycol 8000 (–1.45 MPa, 24 h at 15 8C) and nonprimed seeds were first adjusted to 6% and 9% moisture contents and then stored at 48 and 38 8C for up to 30 days, respectively. These storage conditions (6% MC and 48 8C; 9%MC and 38 8C) were predicted by the viability equation to result in equal longevities. Subsequent viability assays at 20 8C revealed that nonprimed seeds in both storage environments exhibited similar losses in viability over time, thus validating the Ellis-Roberts equation and the use of these conditions to apply different but equal aging stress. Primed seeds of both cultivars deteriorated faster than nonprimed seeds as expected. However, primed seeds did exhibit different rates of deterioration between the storage environments. Primed seeds stored at 9%MCand 38 8C deteriorated faster than primed seeds stored at 6%MC and 48 8C. The rate of decline in probit viability percentage was three times greater in primed ‘Big Ben’ seeds stored at 9% MC and 38 8C than for those stored at 6% MC and 48 8C (–1.34 versus –0.26 probits per day, respectively). ‘Parris Island Cos’ seeds stored at 9% MC and 38 8C had twice the rate of deterioration that those stored at 6% MC and 48 8C (–1.19 and –0.49 probits per day, respectively). The results indicate that primed lettuce seeds were more sensitive to the adverse effects of higher seed MC than were nonprimed seeds during storage at elevated temperatures.

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