In vivo detection of age-related mechanisms in dry seed storage

Dry storage of seeds will irreversibly lead to a gradual loss of seed quality. The primary cause of seed aging is auto-oxidation of membrane lipids by free radicals and accumulation of this damage over time. Different species may have different abilities to protect their membrane lipids and, thus, different longevities. Anti-oxidants, including vitamin E, are important protective molecules that help to reduce the damage. However, protective mechanisms may be weakened by environmental factors during seed development, harvesting and further processing, including seed priming, and cause variation in storability among seed lots. We study the effects of the (sub)cellular redox state on the extent of aging-related damage. The redox state can be quantified by ESR or by metabolite profiling and used as a marker of seed storability. The additional use of MRI microscopy and fluorescent ESR probes will enable us to locate the accumulation of auto-oxidation damage at the (sub)cellular and tissue levels.