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Basic and Applied Aspects of Seed Biology.

Basic and Applied Aspects of Seed Biology. Proceedings of the V International Workshop on Seeds, University of Reading, UK, September 10-15, 1995. Edited by R. H. ELLIS, M. BLACK, A. J. MURDOCH AND T. D. HONG. Kluwer Academic Publishers, PO Box 989, 3300 AZ Dordrecht, The Netherlands. 1997. Hardback, 823 pp., $396.50. ISBN 0-79234363-8.

The 90 papers published in this book were presented at the Fifth International Workshop on Seeds held at the University of Reading. These papers represent a cross section of the current research on the major topics that concern seed researchers. As Dr. Roberts implied in the introduction to the book, whether the seed scientist is a plant physiologist, biochemist or molecular biologist, or if motivated by scientific curiosity or a practical problem solver, this book would be of interest because of the interrelationship of the various areas of research. Moreover, the book is a reference resource for teachers and scientists in seed science.

The book is divided into five sections corresponding to the sessions of the workshop. These sessions were: `Developmental and Desiccation Tolerance of Seeds (Natural and Artificial),' `Dormancy,' `Gemination and Vigor,' `Seed Eco-physiology,' and `Storage and Conservation.' Included, also, is an introductory paper by E.H. Roberts in which he chronicles his work in seed production and research with emphasis on the development of viability equations and dormancy. While the intent of the organizers of the workshop was to cover the broad topics of major interest and research in seeds, as expected, many of the papers did not fit into the session titles.

In section one although no conclusion can be reached concerning a universal mechanism(s) of desiccation tolerance, sufficient results are presented to assess the range of mechanisms that are currently proposed and the status of the research.

There are 20 papers on dormancy in section two. While several papers involve management of dormancy on specific species, some of which border on being exotic, others are good representations of the more advanced studies on mechanisms of dormancy.

Nearly one third (12) of the papers in section three are biochemical and molecular characterizations of reactions involved in various seed stages from quiescence through priming to germination. Other papers are concerned with new methods of measuring seed quality, recipes of how to enhance seed performance, and biological changes that occur during seed enhancement.

The section on ecophysiology consists of only four papers on the subject. These papers deal mainly with gemination and dispersal strategies that make it possible for certain species to inhabit ecological niches that are less than desirable for most plants.

The subject of dehydration of recalcitrant seed is emphasized in the last section. Included are studies on chemical, physical and biological changes that occur in orthodox and recalcitrant seed during aging and storage. Some of the work on the role of free radicals in seed quality is reported as well as studies on storage fungi.

This book contains a number of good papers that represent some of the more basic research approaches to developing a better understanding of some of the mystical properties of seed. Other papers add to the knowledge base and form a basis for solving practical problems. The book: is a wealth of information for everyone with an interest in seeds.

S. H. West Agronomy Seed Laboratory, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
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Author:West, S.H.
Publication:Crop Science
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 1998
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