“Ageing and the role of oxygen is not obvious for seeds”.
Ageing is unavoidable for all life, but underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. In desiccation-tolerant life forms, such as most seeds, the cytoplasm solidifies to a ‘glassy state’ with highly restricted molecular diffusion, which suspends metabolism and increases seed life span. In my presentation, I show that seeds are sensitive to oxygen-mediated ageing when the cytoplasm is in a glassy state, but are hardly oxygen-sensitive when it is fluid. The results have implications for conservation and research. For example, caution should be exercised when using rapid ageing at high temperatures and humidity that result in fluid (non-glassy) cytoplasm to interpret how seeds biochemically respond to cold long-term storage in seedbanks.