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Studies on Photoblastic Germination in Lettuce Seed


Scheibe, Joseph Emil (1966) Studies on Photoblastic Germination in Lettuce Seed. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Q0PY-3Q87.


It was shown, with the aid of osmotic inhibition of germination, that the action of the far-red-absorbing form of phytochrome (Pf) in promoting germination can be completed even if the seed is held under conditions where germination is not possible. An effect of the continuing action of Pf beyond the point of complete germination promotion was demonstrated by enhancement of germination rate after removal of the osmotically active solute.

Previous reports that the rate of growth in water of seeds freed from the expansion-restricting endosperm is independent of the state of phytochrome were confirmed. However, a marked, phytochrome-mediated enhancement of the growth potential of such seeds was demonstrated through restricting water uptake by incubation in an osmoticum.

An experimental system, utilizing the appearance of a geotropic curvature in the radicle of the excised axial portion of the seed, was developed for more detailed studies of the phytochrome-enhanced growth potential. It was possible to demonstrate the light effect in water as well as in osmotica; this apparently is not possible with de-endospermed entire seeds. As in intact seeds, the effect of the continuing action of Pf is to enhance the rate of the response. Secretion of a chemical inhibitor of growth by the endosperm as a possible mechanism of induction of light sensitivity has been ruled out.

The phytochrome-dependent rate of appearance of geotropic curvature in osmotica is paralleled in time by a similar dependence of the rate of early extension growth of the embryonic axis. Only the first small increment of growth is a differentially responsive to red (R) and far-red (F); the rate of later increase in length is independent of the light regime.

It was shown that the high concentrations of gibberellic acid required for germination promotion in the intact seed are due at least in part to a diffusion barrier in the endosperm, and that the occasional reports in the literature of the ineffectiveness of kinetin are probably due to the same phenomenon. It was shown that gibberellin, like red light, enhances the growth potential of the axis, but kinetin does not. The difference in rates of response obtained after R-irradiation or gibberellin treatment, together with other results reported in the literature, strongly suggests that gibberellic acid and red light promote germination by different means. The idea that kinetin promotes germination by yet another mechanism, probably operating in the cotyledons, was supported through two different experimental approaches.

The phenomenon of temperature-dependent dark germination was examined in detail, using a wide range of both temperatures and incubation times. With the aid of the half-seed system, it was demonstrated that the promotive effect of low temperature on germination could not be due to a low optimum temperature for early growth of the radicle, since the rate of that process increased with increasing temperature, up to the highest temperature used.

It was shown that phytochrome does not function at high temperatures. This fact is of considerable importance in interpreting the phenomenon of thermodormancy, since in the literature only a small part of the effect of high temperature has been ascribed to an effect on phytochrome, and at that, only to an acceleration of dark reversion of Pf to the red-absorbing form of phytochrome (Pr). Partial denaturation of phytochrome may also make some contribution.

It was shown that the germination-promoting effect of low temperature depends on the presence of Pf, and concluded that low temperatures act by delaying or preventing transformation of Pf. Support for the assumption that Pf, not Pr, is the active form of phytochrome in lettuce seeds was drawn from the same evidence.

Attempts to stimulate germination by repeated irradiation with F over relatively prolonged incubation times resulted in failure, as have similar attempts reported in the literature. However, an enhancement of growth potential in the half-seed system by the maintenance of a small amount of Pf over long periods at ordinary temperatures by repeated irradiation with F was demonstrated.

It was observed that cold storage of the dry seed prevents or delays loss of dark dormancy during post-harvest storage. No change in the response of the half-seed in osmoticum to R and F was observed in seeds that has lost dark dormancy; that is, no internal change took place to measurably increase the growth potential of the embryonic axis. This suggests that the endosperm is the seat of changes responsible for after-ripening of photoblastic lettuce seed.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Plant Physiology)
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Lang, Anton
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:1 July 1965
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Public Health ServiceUNSPECIFIED
Arthur McCallum FundUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10192015-101751719
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9226
Deposited On:19 Oct 2015 22:36
Last Modified:07 Mar 2024 23:55

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