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Mechanism and Control of Solanum lycocarpum Seed Germination

Pinto, Lilian V.A., Da silva, Edvaldo A.A., Davide, Antonio C., De Jesus, Valquíria A. Mendes, Toorop, Peter E., Hilhorst, Henk W.M.
Annals of botany 2007 v.100 no.6 pp. 1175-1187
Solanum lycocarpum, abscisic acid, cerrado, coffee beans, crops, dispersions, endosperm, fruits, imbibition, indigenous species, microscopy, monitoring, seed germination, seeds, temperature, tomatoes
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Solanaceae seed morphology and physiology have been widely studied but mainly in domesticated crops. The present study aimed to compare the seed morphology and the physiology of germination of Solanum lycocarpum, an important species native to the Brazilian Cerrado, with two species with endospermic seeds, tomato and coffee. METHODS: Morphological parameters of fruits and seeds were determined by microscopy. Germination was monitored for 40 d under different temperature regimes. Endosperm digestion and resistance, with endo-β-mannanase activity and required force to puncture the endosperm cap as respective markers, were measured during germination in water and in abscisic acid. KEY RESULTS: Fruits of S. lycocarpum contain dormant seeds before natural dispersion. The best germination condition found was a 12-h alternating light/dark and high/low (20/30 °C) temperature cycle, which seemed to target properties of the endosperm cap. The endosperm cap contains 7-8 layers of elongated polygonal cells and is predestined to facilitate radicle protrusion. The force required to puncture the endosperm cap decreased in two stages during germination and showed a significant negative correlation with endo-β-mannanase activity. As a result of the thick endosperm cap, the puncture force was significantly higher in S. lycocarpum than in tomato and coffee. Endo-β-mannanase activity was detected in the endosperm cap prior to radicle protrusion. Abscisic acid inhibited germination, increase of embryo weight during imbibition, the second stage of weakening of the endosperm cap and of endo-β-mannanase activity in the endosperm cap. CONCLUSIONS: The germination mechanism of S. lycocarpum bears resemblance to that of tomato and coffee seeds. However, quantitative differences were observed in embryo pressure potential, endo-β-mannanase activity and endosperm cap resistance that were related to germination rates across the three species.