Internal anatomy of individual tomato seeds: Relationship to abscisic acid and germination physiology

Bruce Downie, Sunitha Gurusinghe, Kent J. Bradford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Tomato seeds that have been dried, imbibed and redried (primed) develop internal free space between the embryo and endosperm. Seeds of the ABA-deficient sitiens (sit(w)) tomato mutant can exhibit internal free space at the completion of seed development even without priming. Both primed and sit(w) seeds germinate more rapidly than untreated wild-type seeds. To determine whether internal anatomy predicts germination physiology, individual sit(w) and primed wild-type seeds were sorted into three categories based upon the extent of internal free space observed nondestructively using X-radiography. Category 3 (C3, extensive free space present) sit(w) seeds completed germination more rapidly than all other seed categories and genotypes in water, in abscisic acid (ABA) or under far-red illumination. The force necessary to puncture the endosperm caps (and testa) of C3 sit(w) seeds was less, and the percentage of nuclei in C3 sit(w) radicle tips in the G2 stage of the cell cycle was greater than for all other seed categories. Wild-type seeds exhibited free space following long-term priming, but germination was still prevented by far-red light and ABA, and endosperm cap strength and nuclear DNA contents were not altered. Endo-β-mannanase activity of individual endosperm caps was not consistently related to their resistance to puncture. While internal free space is diagnostic for primed tomato seeds and occurs in a fraction of sit(w) seeds, it is not predictive of many aspects of germination physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-128
Number of pages12
JournalSeed Science Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Dr Clark Lagarius for the use of the FR light source. Ms Sophie Thibault assisted in measuring locule osmotic potential and Mr Sang Yang assisted in growing the sitw plants. This research was supported by National Science Foundation grant No. IBN-9407264 to KJB and by the Western Regional Seed Physiology Research Group. BD was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Post-Doctoral Scholarships.


  • Abscisic acid
  • Endo-β-mannanase
  • Germination
  • Lycopersicon esculentum Mill
  • Priming
  • Tomato
  • X-radiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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