Seeds are dormant forms of life of the plants.
They contain the endosperm which is the nutrition required for the embryo to grow into a plant.
Seed are the products of sexual reproduction in plants.
From seeds, seedlings and plants sprout out spontaneously under suitable conditions when put into the soil.
The seed is the way plants propagate their offspring in different regions.
Some of them fall near the plant while some are carried over by winds, birds, animals, etc to far off places.
But where ever they fall and grow, the method of germination of the seed is the same for most plants.
Seeds have an embryo which is the actual diploid cell having a life. Besides the embryo, reserve food material necessary for seed germination is present.
It mostly contains starch, fats, and other reserve food material with the least amount of moisture.
Hence the seed appears very dry and can be stored for many years without any damage by infection etc.
Stages involved in Germination process:
Seed germination means the growth of embryo into seedling and plant. Most of the higher plants produce fruits which also bear the seeds. These seeds fall down from the plant and get spread to different places by wind, grazing animals, etc. The steps of the germination of seeds are based on the time period and physiological changes.
1. Imbibition phase.
2. Latent phase.
3. Exponential growth phase.
This is a phase where seeds imbibe water from the surroundings. When a seed falls onto the soil, it receives sufficient water and moisture. Then the actual process of germination starts.
The water permeates through the seed coat and the seed material inside is drenched.
The internal seed content imbibes (absorbs) water and the seed swells. This puts pressure on the seed coat to provide eruption for germination. All the parts of a germinating seed become soft and smooth in this phase.
The food material inside the seed, now in presence of water provides sufficient energy. This helps the embryo to sprout out of the seed as a seedling. There is an internal active metabolism for the seed. This is a bit long time-consuming process so it remains latent. The metabolic reaction is active and there is a release of heat. This stage makes the seed ready to sprout out.
Exponential growth phase:
All the biochemical reactions get activated and plant growth hormones then guide the process of germination.
By regulation of auxin a growth hormone, the root tends to grow into the soil while the stem forms and grows towards the light. This process continues until the germination of seed into a small plant is complete.
Till the level of formation of leaves, the growth of plants is sustained by reserve food material, water, and oxygen from the air.
Once leaves form, food is synthesized from light using carbon dioxide and water.
Thus the seed germination process ends with the formation of seedling which grows into a big plant.
Factors affecting germination of seeds:
Seed germination is affected by many factors like<
Rains /water supply, climate, season, predators, infection to seeds, the fertility of the soil, temperature, sunlight, Oxygen, etc. Among them, rains, water supply, soil fertility, the temperature at optimum levels favor germination while predator, rough climates inhibit seed germination.
Water: Seeds are the driest forms and they require water for germination. It helps seed in
- Activation of enzymes to digest reserve food
To rupture the seed coat
To mediate all the physiological processes of the seed.
Soil temperature for seed germination is critical. Both low temperatures and high temperatures are not suitable for seed growth. Because enzymes are not active at low temperatures and physiology of growth is slow while at high temperatures they get denatured.
Oxygen is vital to oxidize reserve food and provide energy for seed germination. Without oxygen, seeds do not germinate as seen in seeds sown very deep in the soil.
Sunlight: Seed germination varies in plants due to light
Some require light for germination while in other germination is inhibited by light. But light seems to guide the direction of roots and stem from the seed.
Seeds germinate immediately after being sown. But some seeds stay inactive in the soil for some time period and then go for germination. This period of rest is called seed dormancy.
Seeds’ ability to germinate varies on the method of storage, the health of the parent, age of seed, the maturity of seed, infections, etc. So the seeds with good viability germinate faster.