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Temporal patterns of seed quality development, decline, and timing of maximum quality during seed development and maturation

Ellis, R. H. ORCID: (2019) Temporal patterns of seed quality development, decline, and timing of maximum quality during seed development and maturation. Seed Science Research, 29 (2). pp. 135-142. ISSN 0960-2585

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0960258519000102


The long-standing hypothesis that seed quality improves during seed filling, is greatest at the end of seed filling, and declines thereafter (because seed deterioration was assumed to begin then), provided a template for research in seed quality development. It was rejected by investigations where seed quality was shown to improve throughout both seed development and maturation until harvest maturity, before seed deterioration was first observed. Several other temporal patterns of seed quality development and decline have also been reported. These are portrayed and compared. The assessment suggests that the original hypothesis was too simple, because it combined several component hypotheses: (a) the seed improvement (only) phase ends before seed deterioration (only) commences; (b) there is only a brief single point in time during seed development and maturation when, in all circumstances, seed quality is maximal; (c) the seed quality improvement phase coincides perfectly with seed filling, with deterioration only post seed filling. It is concluded that the search for the single point of maximum seed quality was a false quest because (a) seed improvement and deterioration may cycle (sequentially if not simultaneously) during seed development and maturation; (b) the relative sensitivity of the rates of improvement and deterioration to environment may differ; (c) the period of maximum quality may be brief or extended. Hence, when maximum quality is first attained, and for how long it is maintained, during seed development and maturation varies with genotype and environment. This is pertinent to quality seed production in current and future climates since it will be affected by climate change and a likelihood of more frequent coincidence of brief periods of extreme temperatures with highly-sensitive phases of seed development and maturation. This is a possible tipping point for food security and for ecological diversity.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
ID Code:83166
Uncontrolled Keywords:mass maturity; seed development; seed harvest; seed quality; seed longevity; seed maturity
Publisher:Cambridge University Press


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