Journal Article

A study of water relations in neem (<i>Azadirachta indica</i>) seed that is characterized by complex storage behaviour

Moctar Sacandé, Julia Buitink and Folkert A. Hoekstra

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 51, issue 344, pages 635-643
Published in print March 2000 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online March 2000 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jexbot/51.344.635
A study of water relations in neem (Azadirachta indica) seed that is characterized by complex storage behaviour

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Neem (Azadirachta indica) seed is reputed to have limited tolerance to desiccation, to be sensitive to chilling and imbibitional stress, and to display intermediate storage behaviour. To understand this behaviour the properties of water in seed tissues were studied. Water sorption isotherms showed that at similar relative humidity (RH), the water content was consistently higher in axes than in cotyledons, mainly due to the elevated lipid content (51%) in the cotyledons. Using differential scanning calorimetry, melting transitions of water were observed at water contents higher than 0.14 g H2O g−1 DW in the cotyledons and 0.23 g H2O g−1 DW in the axes. Beside melting transitions of lipid, as verified by infrared spectroscopy, changes in heat capacity were observed which shifted with water content, indicative of glass‐to‐liquid transitions. State diagrams are given on the basis of the water content of seed tissues, and also on the basis of the RH at 20 °C. Longevity was considerably improved, and the sensitivity to chilling/subzero temperatures was reduced when axis and cotyledons were dehydrated to moisture contents ≤ of approximately 0.05 g H2O g−1 DW. However, longevity during storage at very low water contents was limited. A possible mechanism for the loss of sensitivity to chilling/subzero temperatures at low water contents is discussed. The results suggest that dry neem seeds in the glassy state have great potential for extended storability, also at subzero temperatures.

Keywords: Azadirachta indica; chilling tolerance; desiccation tolerance; glassy state; seed storage.

Journal Article.  5670 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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