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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

Freshly harvested sunflower (Heliarthus annuus L.) seeds germinated poorly, with a temperature optimum close to 25 °C. The inability to germinate at high temperatures (25 to 40°C) resulted principally from a seed-coat imposed dormancy, whereas poor germination at temperatures below 25 °C was mainly due to an embryo dormancy. Dry storage greatly improved germination at temperatures ranging from 5 to 40°C, by eliminating both the seed-coat imposed and the embryo dormancy. A too high temperature (45°C) always completely inhibited germination and rapidly induced a secondary dormancy which was broken by redrying and dry storage of the seeds. The depth of embryo dormancy varied during the development of the seeds. It was low in very immature embryos, but increased and then decreased during desiccation of the seeds on the mother plants. Ethylene and its immediate precursor (1-aminocyclopropane-l-car- boxylic acid) strongly stimulated germination of primary dormant seeds. On the contrary, inhibitors of ethylene biosynthesis (amino-oxyacetic acid and CoCl2) or ethylene action (silver thiosulfate and 2,5-norbornadiene) inhibited germination of nondormant seeds. CO2 also improved the germination of dormant seeds, but its effect was reduced in the presence of inhibitors of ethylene biosynthesis. All the results obtained indicated that ethylene synthesized by the seeds themselves was involved in the regulation of sunflower seed germination.

Affiliations: 1: UA 1180, C.N.R.S., Université Pierre et Marie Curie ; 2: Laboratoire de Physiologie Végétale Appliquée, Université Pierre et Marie Curie


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