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Plant Physiol. 1966 Feb;41(2):221-9.

Imbibition period as the critical temperature sensitive stage in germination of lima bean seeds.

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Crops Research Division, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland.


Lima bean seeds (Phaseolus lunatus L.) and excised embryonic axes can be injured during imbibition at temperatures below 25 degrees . The early imbibitional stage is critical; imbibition at 25 degrees followed by low temperature exposure does not cause injury. Sensitivity to chilling injury is conditioned by the pre-harvest seed history. Low vigor (bleached) seeds are most sensitive to injury, the effects of which can be intensified by restricted oxygen supply during early axis growth. The seed coat, by preventing water uptake, can permit the seed to avoid injury. This protective mechanism is most effective at low temperature and high moisture stress. Immediately following low temperature imbibition, injured axes lose organic materials, probably nucleotides. This organic leachate is a potential influence on soil microorganisms and, together with the temperature sensitivity, vigor, and seed coat effect undoubtedly is important in controlling the potential variability in germination shown by a seed population.

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