Increasing the rate of drying reduces metabolic imbalance, lipid peroxidation and critical water content in radicles of garden pea (Pisum sativum L.)
Orthodox seeds become desiccation-sensitive as they undergo germination. As a result, germinating seeds serve as a model to study desiccation sensitivity in plant tissues. The effects of the rate of drying on the viability, respiratory metabolism and free radical processes were thus studied during dehydration and wet storage of radicles of Pisum sativum. For both drying regimes desiccation could be described by exponential and inverse modified functions. Viability, as assessed by germination capacity and tetrazolium staining, remained at 100% during rapid (< 24 h) desiccation. However, it declined sharply at c. 0.26 g g¹ dm following slow (c. 5 days) drying. Increasing the rate of dehydration thus lowered the critical water content for survival. Rapid desiccation was also associated with higher activities and levels of malate dehydrogenase and the oxidized form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. It was also accompanied by lower hydroperoxide levels and membrane damage. In addition, the activitiy of glutathione reductase was greater during rapid drying. Ageing may have contributed to increased damage during slow dehydration, since viability declined even in wet storage after two weeks. The results presented are consistent with rapid desiccation reducing the accumulation of damage resulting from desiccation-induced aqueous-based deleterious reactions. In addition, they show that radicles are a useful model to study desiccation sensitivity in plant tissues.