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Physiol Plant. 2001 Aug;112(4):495-504.

Tolerance of coffee (Coffea spp.) seeds to ultra-low temperature exposure in relation to calorimetric properties of tissue water, lipid composition, and cooling procedure.

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IRD, 911 Avenue d'Agropolis, BP 5045, F-34032 Montpellier Cedex 1, France; IPGRI, Via delle Sette Chiese 142, I-00145 Rome, Italy; ENSC, 8 Rue Ecole Normale, F-34000 Montpellier, France.


The effect of exposure to ultra-low temperature (liquid nitrogen, LN) on viability of seeds desiccated to various water contents was investigated in 9 coffee species. Three groups of species could be distinguished based on seed survival after LN exposure. In group 1 species, no seedling production could be obtained after LN exposure due to endosperm injury. In group 2 species, recovery was very low or nil after rapid cooling, and only moderate after slow cooling. In group 3 species, very high percentages of seedling development were observed after both rapid and slow cooling. A high interspecific variability for the high moisture freezing limit was observed within the species of groups 2 and 3, since it ranged from 0.14 to 0.26 g H2O g-1 dry weight. A very highly significant correlation was found for those species between the unfreezable water content, as determined from DSC analysis, and the high moisture freezing limit of their seeds. No significant correlation was found between seed lipid content, which varied from 9.8 to 34.6% dry weight, and survival after LN exposure. However, a negative relationship was found between seed unfreezable water content and lipid content. Interspecific differences in fatty acid composition of seed lipids resulted in a high variability in the percentage of unsaturated fatty acids, which ranged from 28.7 to 54.4% among the 9 species studied. For all species studied, a highly significant correlation was found between the percentage of unsaturated fatty acids and the percentage of seedling recovery after rapid or slow cooling.


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