Cryopreservation of Recalcitrant (i.e. Desiccation-Sensitive) Seeds

  • Christina Walters
  • James Wesley-Smith
  • Jennifer Crane
  • Lisa M. Hill
  • Pawel Chmielarz
  • Norman W. Pammenter
  • Patricia Berjak

Unlike orthodox seeds, mature seeds of some species do not survive desiccation and are often referred to as “recalcitrant” (Hong et al. 1998). Approximately 10–20% of angiosperm species produce seeds that acquire some, but not full, tolerance of desiccation during maturation (Dickie and Pritchard 2002). Incidence of recalcitrance does not distribute along phylogenetic clades, though some plant families include many species producing recalcitrant seeds (e.g., Fagaceae, Lauraceae, Sapindaceae, Meliaceae) while other families apparently lack species exhibiting this trait (e.g., Solanaceae, Asteraceae, Amaranthaceae). Life history traits of the plant, such as a long lived, perennial nature, and its habitat, such as aquatic or rainforest, are associated with seed recalcitrance, but not all plants with these characteristics produce recalcitrant seeds. The term “recalcitrant” is also used to describe seeds that are particularly difficult to germinate because they have deep dormancy or an unknown dormancy release mechanism. Though frustrating to work with, seeds with this dormancy physiology are amenable to cryopreservation using straightforward procedures described for “orthodox” seeds and will not be addressed here.


Water Potential Fresh Mass Desiccation Tolerance Embryonic Axis Recalcitrant Seed 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina Walters
    • 1
  • James Wesley-Smith
    • 2
  • Jennifer Crane
    • 1
  • Lisa M. Hill
    • 1
  • Pawel Chmielarz
    • 3
  • Norman W. Pammenter
    • 4
  • Patricia Berjak
    • 4
  1. 1.U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research ServiceNational Center for Genetic Resources PreservationFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Electron Microscope UnitUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalSouth Africa
  3. 3.Institute of DendrologyPolish Academy of SciencesPoland
  4. 4.School of Biological and Conservation SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalSouth Africa

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