A study of water relations in neem (Azadirachta indica) seed that is characterised by complex storage behaviour

M. Sacandé, J. Buitink, F.A. Hoekstra

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41 Citations (Scopus)


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
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-643
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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