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Preharvest sprouting of wheat can be a real agricultural disaster. It results from a weak dormancy of the grains and weather conditions favorable to germination (cool temperatures and high rainfall) at the time of seed maturation. Dormancy intensity, which is expressed by the inability of the grains to germinate at relatively high temperatures (above 10–15 C), is deeper in Soissons cultivar, a sprouting-resistant cultivar, than in The & acute; s& eacute;e cultivar, a sprouting-sensitive one. However, it depends on the stage of seed development and decreases progressively during maturation of the grains on the ear. Wheat dormancy principally originates in the surrounding structures of the grain, but the embryo itself appears to play a role. Responsiveness of isolated embryos to exogenous abscisic acid (ABA) is highly correlated with dormancy and sprouting susceptibility. Sensitivity of the embryo to ABA increases during the dough stage of seed development for both cultivars, but it decreases strongly during the maturation phase for The& acute; s & eacute; e while it remains high for Soissons, which is more resistant to sprouting. The sensitivity of the embryo to ABA is discussed as a criterion to appraise the susceptibility of wheat cultivars to sprouting.

Affiliations: 1: Physiologie Végétale Appliquée, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Tour 53, 1er Étage, 4 Place Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cédex 05, France ; 2: LRPV, 16 boulevard Lavoisier, 49045 Angers Cédex 01, France.


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