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The effect of provenance on the response of the recalcitrant seeds of Trichilia dregeana to drying and chilling.

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One of the factors that affect the post-harvest behavior of seeds is provenance. Different geographical locations are characterised by different environmental conditions, hence, plant materials harvested from different locations may respond differently to laboratoryinduced stresses. The aim of the present study was to assess the role that provenance plays on the degree of recalcitrance of a single species – a factor that needs to be taken into consideration when choices are to be made for plant germplasm conservation. In this study, seeds of Trichilia dregeana, which have been shown to display recalcitrant post-harvest behavior, were harvested from four locations that were slightly different in climatic conditions: Mtunzini (MTZN), Durban (DBN), Pietermaritzburg (PMB) and Port Edward (P.ED), all within the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. Clean seeds, whose aril and seed coat have been removed, were subjected to different drying and chilling stresses and their responses to the stresses are examined. Excised embryonic axes of the seeds were also subjected to flash (very rapid) drying and their responses to the stress are shown. Although the vegetation of these locations can be categorized as being sub-tropical, the present study suggests that there may be ‘degrees’ in the sub-tropical nature based on the rainfall and maximum temperature data. The ‘degree of sub-tropicality’ is suggested to be in the order MTZN > DBN > P.ED > PMB. Mean seed size assessed as seed length, width and fresh mass varied significantly across the four regions, with seeds from MTZN being the smallest and those from P.ED being the largest. The shedding water content of the embryonic axes of the seeds for 150 min. However, shoot production, root and shoot length and dry mass accumulation showed that axes of seeds from MTZN were the most adversely affected by rapid drying while those from PMB were the least sensitive. When clean whole seeds were dried slowly by burying in silica gel for 36 h, all seeds of the four provenances still retained more than 50% of their shedding water. MTZN seeds lost viability completely from the 24 h of slow drying while seeds from the other three locations retained some viability after 36 h. The order of survival of slow drying was MTZN < DBN < P.ED = PMB. Storage of cleaned whole seeds at chilling temperatures (3oC, 6oC and 16oC) caused increase in the water content of the embryonic axes of the seeds across the four locations. All seeds of the four provenances had lost more than 50% survival after they had been stored at 3oC for 10 weeks. Survival was completely lost from the 12th week for MTZN seeds, from the 14th week for DBN and P.ED seeds and from the 16th week for PMB seeds. There was no survival recorded for seeds across the four regions at the 18th week. The seeds were able to tolerate storage at 6oC for a little longer than those stored at 3oC. Only MTZN seeds completely lost viability at the 18th week; seeds from the other three locations retained some viability throughout the 18 weeks of storage. Storage at 16oC was the most tolerable, as all seeds from the four provenances maintained some viability until the 18th week in storage, with MTZN having the least survival and those from P.ED having the highest survival. Phylogenetic analysis of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the DBN and PMB samples showed intraspecific levels of genetic variation, and were separated by a genetic distance of 0.9%, an indicator that differences in storage behavior, chilling and desiccation sensitivity between seeds obtained from different collection localities may be genetically based. This study showed that MTZN seeds were the most sensitive, while seeds from PMB and P.ED were the most tolerant, to drying and chilling treatments, respectively. The prevailing climatic conditions may have a bearing on the responses observed in this study.


Thesis (M.Sc.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville, 2011.


Seeds--Development., Seeds--Storage., Seeds--Harvesting., Trichilia., Meliaceae., Theses--Botany.