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The Warsaw Voice » Other » July 1, 2009
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Controlling Seed Germination
July 1, 2009   
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Researchers at the University of Technology and Life Sciences in the city of Bydgoszcz have developed an innovative method for controlling seed germination. The method won a gold medal at this year's Councours Lépine innovation exhibition in Paris.

Developed by a team composed of Prof. Janusz Prusiñski, Prof. Gra¿yna Harasimowicz-Hermann and Prof. Janusz Hermann, the method is used to control the swelling phase of the germination of leguminous plant seeds. It prevents the seeds from swelling for three to five months after they are sown. The seeds are sown in the ground in autumn, but they do not begin to absorb water, swell and germinate until the spring when the conditions in the fields promote further growth.

When the time is ripe
This kind of germination control is enabled by microcapsules with formaldehyde resin or acid sodium carbonate, placed in a water-resistant substance, such as beeswax, which covers every seed, the researchers say. The microcapsules are like valves that allow water to reach the surface of the seeds when the time is right.

Research reports contain descriptions of numerous methods to refine seeds, the inventors say. The most common methods include pickling and encrustation of seeds to protect them from pathogens, supply with biogenic components, and adjust calibration for more precise sowing. What was missing was a method to prevent seeds from swelling during autumn and winter, over a period of no less than three and no more than five months. No research had been done on how to protect spring plant seeds, which were supposed to lay dormant in the soil from late-autumn sowing until the moment when the moisture and temperature in early spring allowed them to germinate.

In the new method, the surface of seeds is sprayed with beeswax, Candelilla wax, Carnauba wax or paraffin heated up to 62-70 Celsius degrees. The protective coating is between 10 and 1,000 µm thick. In the process, the temperature of the seeds cannot exceed 30 degrees Celsius. The water-resistant coating is fitted with microcapsules containing catalytic substances which, at a specified time, act like valves allowing water to reach the seeds and enable germination.

Ewa Dereñ
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