PerspectivePlant Science

Preservation of Recalcitrant Seeds

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Science  22 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6122, pp. 915-916
DOI: 10.1126/science.1230935

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Concerns about the rapid erosion of plant diversity have spawned a host of seed-banking initiatives (1). These repositories provide critical germ plasm needed to understand, maintain, and manage natural variation within and among species (2). However, numerous plant species and much of the humid tropics are underserved in these endeavors because of the perceived problem of seed recalcitrance (3). About 75 to 80% of angiosperm species (4, 5) produce orthodox seeds that can survive drying and prolonged storage at −20°C. By contrast, 5 to 10% of angiosperm species produce recalcitrant seeds that do not survive desiccation (3) and are killed in the freezer when ice crystals form. How can their preservation be ensured?