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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

The importance of sensing the environment for seeds is analysed with special attention to three environmental factors—water, light and temperature. Firstly, the possible ways in which differences in water potential of different parts of an imbibing seed might affect metabolism are examined. The necessity of correlating metabolism in different parts of the seed during imbibition is stressed. Secondly, light sensing via phytochrome is analysed in terms of possible steps in the reaction sequence subsequent to the primary photoreaction. Some apparent discrepancies in the light sensing mechanism are considered. Finally, sensing of temperature, the most erratic and unpredictable environmental signal, is analysed in terms of mediation by changes in either membrane properties or membrane metabolism and in terms of possible effects on the growth potential of the embryo. During imbibition and early germination, different parts of the seed become hydrated to different extents. As a result, metabolic events may not be synchronised. It is suggested that the cellular membrane is the site at which water potential, light and temperature are sensed and that the changes occurring in the membrane serves as an indicator determining the seed's response to its environment. Only very few biochemical steps can thus far be directly related to the seed's response to its environment. Suggestions for approaching some of the problems raised are presented.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Botany, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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