Some effects of drying rate and wet storage on aspects of the physiology and biochemistry of embryonic axes from diesiccation- sensitive seeds.
Ntuli, Tobias M.
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Desiccation-sensitive seeds show differential viability characteristics during drying at different rates. A number of studies have demonstrated that rapid dehydration permits survival to lower water contents than does slower desiccation. The aim and objective of the present study was to test the hypothesis which states that rapid drying of desiccation-sensitive seeds removes water sufficiently fast to reduce the accumulation of metabolic damage. In addition, the hypothesis that wet storage subjects desiccation-sensitive seeds to mild, but increasingly severe, water stress causing oxidative damage if additional water is not supplied, was tested. In the present study, axes of germinating orthodox seeds of Pisum sativum and newlyshed recalcitrant counterparts of Quercus robur, Strychnos madagascariensis, Trichilia emetica, Trichilia dregeana and Avicennia marina were subjected to rapid or slow drying or wet storage. For those species where more than one harvest was investigated, differences were observed in water contents at shedding. For all the species studied, the dehydration rate could be described by an exponential and a modified inverse function for both desiccation regimes, and the water content remained constant with wet storage. The level of tetrazolium staining and germination percentage of axes decreased sharply drying and hydrated storage such that the marked decline took place at lower water contents upon rapid than slow dehydration. The conductivity of electrolyte leachate increased progressively during desiccation and moist storage of axes of all species investigated. Greater membrane leakage occurred upon slow, than rapid dehydration in axes of all species studied. Activities of respiratory enzymes which have a potentially regulatory role in glycolysis, phosphofructokinase (PFK), or the tricarboxylic acid cycle, malate dehydrogenase (MDH), and levels of the oxidized form of the coenzyme, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), of the enzymes of the electron transport chain, NADH dehydrogenases ofNADH-ubiquinone (coenzyme Q) reductase (complex I) and NADHcytochrome c reductase (complex IV), were monitored in the present investigation. v In addition, the role of free radical activity in the form of lipid peroxidation, which has been implicated in loss of viability in seeds, was examined by assaying the levels of hydroperoxides. The involvement of the free radical processing enzymes, superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione reductase (GR), and the antioxidant, ascorbic acid (AsA), was also ascertained. The activity of PFK in axes of P. sativum remained constant during drying and wet storage. However, PFK activity increased as rapid dehydration and hydrated storage of Q. robur axes proceeded. In contrast, the activity of PFK in axes of Q. robur decreased during slow desiccation. Similarly, PFK activity was reduced upon drying, and moist storage, of T. dregeana axes such that higher activity of PFK was seen during rapid than slow dehydration. The activity ofPFK inA. marina axes also declined upon desiccation. The activity ofMDH in axes of P. sativum was also unchanged during drying and wet storage. However, an increase in MDH activity was recorded in Q. robur axes during dehydration and hydrated storage such that the activity of MDH was higher upon slow than rapid desiccation. In contrast, MDH activity in axes of T. dregeana decreased as drying proceeded. Similarly, the activity of J\.1DH declined during dehydration and moist storage of A. marina axes. An increase in the level of NAD occurred in axes of P. sativum during drying. In contrast, a decrease in NAD levels was seen upon dehydration and wet storage of Q. robur axes such that the level of NAD was higher upon rapid than slow desiccation. There was an enhancement of the level of NAD in axes of T. dregeana during hydrated storage. Conversely, NAD levels declined during drying ofA. marina axes. A decrease in the level of hydroperoxides in axes of P. sativum was seen as rapid drying proceeded. In contrast, hydroperoxide levels increased during wet storage of P. sativum axes. Similarly, the levels of hydroperoxides were enhanced upon dehydration and hydrated storage of Q. robur axes such that they were higher in axes during slow desiccation compared to those dried rapidly. Conversely, the hydroperoxide level in axes of T. dregeana was reduced upon rapid dehydration. In contrast, an elevation of the level of hydroperoxides was observed during moist storage. The levels of hydroperoxides remained constant as desiccation and wet storage ofA. marina axes proceeded. vi The activity of SOD in axes of P. sativum decreased during rapid drying. In contrast, SOD activity increased upon slow dehydration and wet storage ofP. sativum axes. There was a decline in the activity of SOD in Q. robur axes during slow desiccation. Similarly, SOD activity was diminished upon drying of axes of T. dregeana. The activity ofSOD in T. dregeana axes was enhanced during hydrated storage. An elevation in SOD activity also took place during rapid dehydration and moist storage of axes ofA. marina. The activity of CAT did not change during drying of axes of P. sativum. However, a decrease in CAT activity in Q. robur axes was seen upon slow dehydration and wet storage. Similarly, the activity of CAT declined as desiccation of axes of T. dregeana proceeded. In contrast, CAT activity inA. marina axes increased during slow drying. Whereas the activity of GR in axes of P. sativum increased during drying and wet storage, GR activity decreased in A. marina axes upon all treatments such that the activity ofGR was higher during rapid than slow dehydration. GR activity also declined upon slow desiccation and hydrated storage ofaxes of Q. robur. Similarly, the activity of GR in T. dregeana axes was reduced during moist storage. Finally, a decrease in the level of AsA in axes of P. sativum took place during drying. Nonetheless, dehydration and wet storage of Q. robur axes were associated with no siginificant change in AsA levels. There was also a decline in the level of AsA in axes of T. dregeana as rapid desiccation proceeded. Similarly, a reduction in AsA level occurred upon slow drying ofaxes ofA. marina. The results presented here are consistent with the observation that drying and wet storage adversely affected the respiratory enzymes, PFK, MDH and NADH dehydrogenase. It is suggested that the resultant metabolic imbalance led to more leakage of electrons from the mitochondrial electron transport chain than normal, and through lipid peroxidation increased levels of hydroperoxides. In addition, dehydration and hydrated storage may depress the activities of free radical processing enzymes, SOD, CAT and GR and levels of antioxidant, AsA. This phenomenon was less pronounced during rapid, in comparison to slow, desiccation and moist storage. However, it appears that the above biochemical events are overtaken by physical damage at higher water contents in the highly recalcitrant seeds. It was concluded that the differential effects of VII the drying rate and wet storage on responses of desiccation-sensitive seeds varies with tissue, harvest, species and the degree of desiccation sensitivity.