The effects of temperature on dormancy loss, germination and viability were investigated in seeds of Aesculus hippocastanum L. harvested over a 4-year period. Release from embryo dormancy in freshly harvested seeds was manifest in two phases of morphological growth: initially, when the seed lot was only partially released, axis emergence resulted primarily from cotyledonary petiole extension without radicle extension; subsequently, when the seed lot was totally released, axis emergence of all seeds was followed immediately by extension to >1 cm through growth of the radicle. Germination (axis emergence and radicle extension) at 16°C was a function of pre-treatment period at 2–11°C. The rate of dormancy loss (probit germination d−1) increased linearly below a ceiling temperature for the chilling response; this temperature was estimated to vary from 13°C to 16°C for two seed lots harvested in separate years. Dormancy periods for individual seeds within both seed lot populations can be described by cumulative normal distributions; the predicted standard deviation of chilling units below the ceiling temperature (i.e. thermal time) was 186°C d. Visible germination occurred during the process of stratification at 2°C, starting after 21–25 weeks. By contrast, three years of hydrated seed storage at 16°C, which was a non-permissive temperature for dormancy loss, resulted in little pre-emergence of the axis during stratification; approximately one third of the seeds remained germinable. The implications of these quantitative analyses of the physiological processes in recalcitrant seeds for the development of improved storage methods are discussed.
PRITCHARD, H.W., TOMPSETT, P.B. AND MANGER, K.R. (1996). Development of a thermal time model for the quantification of dormancy loss in Aesculus hippocastanum seeds. Seed Science Research. 6. pp. 127-135. [DOI: 10.1017/S0960258500003147]