Angiosperm Flora of India

Detailed characterization of mechanical properties and molecular mobility within dry seed glasses: relevance to the physiology of dry biological systems

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2011
Authors:Ballesteros, D, Walters, C
Journal:The Plant Journal
Date Published:2011
ISBN Number:1365-313X
Keywords:Beta, beta relaxation, cotyledon, glass, molecular mobility, storage stability, structural properties, visco-elastic

Slow movement of molecules in glassy matrices controls the kinetics of chemical and physical reactions in dry seeds. Variation in physiological activity among seeds suggests that there are differences in mobility among seed glasses. Testing this hypothesis is difficult because few tools are available to measure molecular mobility within dry seeds. Here, motional properties within dry pea cotyledons were assessed using dynamic mechanical analysis. The technique detected several molecular relaxations between −80 and +80°C and gave a more detailed description of water content–temperature effects on molecular motion than previously understood from studies of glass formation in seeds at glass transition (Tg). Diffusive movement is delimited by the α relaxation, which appears to be analogous to Tg. β and γ relaxations were also detected at temperatures lower than α relaxations, clearly demonstrating intramolecular motion within the glassy matrix of the pea cotyledon. Glass transitions, or the mechanical counterpart α relaxation, appear to be less relevant to seed aging during dry storage than previously thought. On the other hand, β relaxation occurs at temperature and moisture conditions typically used for seed storage and has established importance for physical aging of synthetic polymer glasses. Our data show that the nature and extent of molecular motion varies considerably with moisture and temperature, and that the hydrated conditions used for accelerated aging experiments and ultra-dry conditions sometimes recommended for seed storage give greater molecular mobility than more standard seed storage practices. We believe characterization of molecular mobility is critical for evaluating how dry seeds respond to the environment and persist through time.

Short Title:The Plant Journal
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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith