Factor Affecting Seed Germination

Factor Affecting Seed Germination 

  • Water
  • Oxygen
  • Temperature
  • Light or Darkness            

1. Water:

It is required for germination. Mature and roller coaster seeds are often dehydrated. They need to take in significant amounts of water relative to the dry weight of the seed before cellular metabolism and growth can resume. Most seeds need enough water to moisten the seeds but not enough to soak them. The uptake of water by seeds is called imbibition, which leads to the swelling and the breaking of the seed coat.

When seeds are formed, most plants store a food reserve with the seed, such as starch, proteins, or oils. This food reserve provides nourishment to the growing embryo. When the seed imbibes water, hydrolytic enzymes are activated, which break down these stored food resources into metabolically useful chemicals. After the seedling emerges from the seed coat and starts growing roots and leaves, the seedling’s food reserves are typically exhausted; at this point, photosynthesis provides the energy needed for continued growth, and the seedling now requires a continuous supply of water, nutrients, and light.

2. Oxygen: 

It is required by the germinating seed for metabolism. Oxygen is used in aerobic respiration, the main source of the seedling’s energy until it grows leaves. Oxygen is an atmospheric gas found in soil pore spaces; if a seed is buried too deeply within the soil or the soil is waterlogged, the seed can be oxygen-starved. Some seeds have impermeable seed coats that prevent oxygen from entering the seed, causing a type of physical dormancy which is broken when the seed coat is worn away enough to allow gas exchange and water uptake from the environment.

3. Temperature:

It affects cellular metabolic and growth rates. Seeds from different species and even seeds from the same plant germinate over a wide range of temperatures. Seeds often have a temperature range within which they will germinate, and they will not do so above or below this range. Many seeds germinate at temperatures slightly above 60-75 F (16-24 C) [room-temperature if you live in a centrally heated house], while others germinate just above freezing, and others germinate only in response to alternations in temperature between warm and cool.

Some seeds germinate when the soil is cool 28-40 F (-2 – 4 C), and some when the soil is warm 76-90 F (24-32 C). Some seeds require exposure to cold temperatures (vernalization) to break dormancy. Some seeds in a dormant state will not germinate even if conditions are favorable. Seeds that are dependent on temperature to end dormancy have a type of physiological dormancy. For example, seeds requiring the cold of winter are inhibited from germinating until they take in water in the fall and experience cooler temperatures.

Four degrees Celsius is cool enough to end dormancy for most cool dormant seeds, but some groups, especially within the family Ranunculaceae and others, need conditions cooler than -5 C. Some seeds will only germinate after hot temperatures during a forest fire that cracks their seed coats; this is a type of physical dormancy.

Most common annual vegetables have optimal germination temperatures between 75-90 F (24-32 C), though many species (e.g., radishes or spinach) can germinate at significantly lower temperatures, as low as 40 F (4 C), thus allowing them to be grown from seeds in cooler climates. Suboptimal temperatures lead to lower success rates and longer germination periods.

4. Light or darkness:

It can be an environmental trigger for germination and is a type of physiological dormancy. Most seeds are not affected by light or darkness, but many seeds, including species found in forest settings, will not germinate until an opening in the canopy allows sufficient light for the seedling growth.

Scarification mimics natural processes that weaken the seed coat before germination. In nature, some seeds require particular conditions to germinate, such as the heat of a fire (e.g., many Australian native plants) or soaking in a body of water for a long period. Others need to be passed through an animal’s digestive tract to weaken the seed coat enough to allow the seedling to emerge.

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