Some implications of associated mycoflora during hydrated storage of recalcitrant seeds of Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh.
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Three questions are considered in the context of the possible effects of seedassociated mycoflora, typified by Fusarium moniliforme, during hydrated storage of recalcitrant seeds of the tropical species, Avicennia marina. These are: 1) whether fungal infection reduces storage lifespan; 2) whether seeds become more susceptible to fungal attack during storage and whether they posses defence mechanisms that might suppress fungal proliferation in hydrated storage (production of antifungal compounds and 13-1,3-glucanase (EC 184.108.40.206) and chitinase (EC 220.127.116.11)] and 3) whether it is possible to discriminate ultrastructurally between inherent deteriorative changes and those that are fungally-induced. 1) The data indicate unequivocally that if fungal activity is curtailed, then the hydrated storage lifespan of A. marina seeds can be considerably extended. 2) When inoculated immediately with F. moniliforme, newly harvested seeds were extremely susceptible to the adverse effects of the fungus, while seeds that had been wet-stored for 4 days showed a considerably heightened resilience to the effects of the fungus prior to inoculation. The enhanced resilience, although declining, persisted in seeds stored hydrated for up to 10 days prior to inoculation, being lost after 12 days. This finding was supported by significant increase in 13-1,3-glucanase and chitinase and in antifungal compound production during 10 days of wet storage. After 14 days of wetstorage, seeds become more susceptible to the effects of fungusthanthose in the newly harvested condition. 3) The resilience of seeds that had been stored in the short-term was associated with ultrastructural changes indicative of enhanced metabolic activity associated with the onset of germination (e.g. increase in vacuolation, well-developed mitochondria and endomembrane system [ER and Golgi bodies]). However, with sustained stress associated with wet-storage IV conditions, the seeds became increasingly badly affected by the fungus, showing some ultrastructural fungally-induced abnormalities (e.g. nuclear lobing, presence of lipid bodies and prevalence of Golgi bodies that had many associated vesicles) and a decrease in 13-1,3-glucanase and chitinase activity. It is suggested that the decreased susceptibility of A. marina seeds during short-term storage relies on the ability to create an antifungal environment prior to infection (through synthesis and accumulation of pre-formed and induced antifungal compounds and antifungal enzymes), which would also be an effective strategy during germination in the natural environment.