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J Exp Bot. 2009;60(6):1619-31. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erp037.

Water movement into dormant and non-dormant wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grains.

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  • 1Plant and Food Science, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.


The movement of water into harvest-ripe grains of dormant and non-dormant genotypes of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) was investigated using Magnetic Resonance Micro-Imaging (MRMI). Images of virtual sections, both longitudinal and transverse, throughout the grain were collected at intervals after the start of imbibition and used to reconstruct a picture of water location within the different grain tissues and changes over time. The observations were supplemented by the weighing measurements of water content and imbibition of grains in water containing I(2)/KI which stains starch and lipid, thereby acting as a marker for water. In closely related genotypes, with either a dormant or a non-dormant phenotype, neither the rate of increase in water content nor the pattern of water distribution within the grain was significantly different until 18 h, when germination became apparent in the non-dormant genotype. Water entered the embryo and scutellum during the very early stages of imbibition through the micropyle and by 2 h water was clearly evident in the micropyle channel. After 12 h of imbibition, embryo structures such as the coleoptile and radicle were clearly distinguished. Although water accumulated between the inner (seed coat) and outer (pericarp) layers of the coat surrounding the grain, there was no evidence for movement of water directly across the coat and into the underlying starchy endosperm.

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