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Soybean Seed Water Relations during in Situ and in Vitro Growth and Maturation 1

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Abstract

Water, osmotic, and pressure potentials of soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merrill) embryos and related maternal tissues were measured during periods of seed growth and maturation to test the involvement of embryo water relations in seed maturation. Seeds were matured in situ or in an in vitro liquid culture medium in detached pods or as isolated seeds. Changes in water relations of embryo tissues were independent of maternal tissues. During seed maturation in situ, water and osmotic potentials in both embryo and maternal tissues declined sharply near the time of maximum dry weight. During in vitro seed culture with and without pods, water and osmotic potentials in axis and cotyledon tissues declined continuously during growth. Water and osmotic potentials of the seed coat, which was present only during in vitro seed culture with pods, changed little during the culture period. Positive turgor in the embryo was maintained beyond maximum dry weight and the loss of green color during in vitro culture but declined to zero at maturity in situ. The osmotic potential in embryo tissues declined from −1.1 megapascals at early pod fill to between −1.65 and −2.2 megapascals at maximum seed dry weight across all maturation environments. It is suggested that the decreasing osmotic potential in the growing soybean embryo reaches a threshold level that is associated with cessation of growth and onset of seed maturation.

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