Seed Breath Analysis

Seed quality control: vigour and seed health

Wageningen Seed Science Centre (WSSC) is developing tests to determine seed health and seed vigour. These tests must assure that only high quality and healthy seeds will be certified and used for cultivation. Some tests are 'high tech', such as DNA chip technology, the application of flow cytometry or immuno-fluorescence. Other tests are relatively simple, such as the use of specific, minimal growth media.

A seed vigour test has been developed based on the 'breath analysis' of moistened seeds. The test, using a commercial breath analyser, measures ethanol produced by seeds in case of mitochondrial damage. The test shows a clear correlation with seed vigour for several crops:

Kodde et al. 2012. A fast ethanol assay to detect seed deterioration. Seed Science Research 22: 55–62

WSSC staff is involved the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) and member of its Seed Storage Committee.