Prolonging the longevity of ex situ conserved seeds by storage under anoxia

S.P.C. Groot*, L. de Groot, J. Kodde, R. van Treuren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Plant genetic resources are conserved by genebanks mainly in the form of seeds. In most of the cases, the dried seeds can be stored for a considerable period of time, but eventually seed deterioration results in the inability to generate healthy seedlings. Prolonging seed longevity during storage reduces the frequency of regeneration, which is beneficial from a genetic as well as a management point of view. To reduce the rate of deterioration, cool and dry storage conditions are usually practised for long-term seed storage. In spite of the growing body of evidence that seed deterioration is predominantly caused by oxidative processes, the importance of seed storage under anoxic conditions has received little attention from the genebank community. Herein, we report on the effects of anoxia on seed viability, the oxygen uptake by dry seeds in closed containers and the permeability for oxygen of various seed storage containers. Our results confirm that the ageing of dry seeds is accelerated by the presence of oxygen in the storage environment. Therefore, we recommend that genebanks store dry seeds under anoxic conditions to prolong their longevity during ex situ conservation. To reduce the initial rate of viability loss, we further recommend that the period of temporary storage after seed harvest be minimized and also that the seeds are kept during this period under controlled conditions, including anoxia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-26
JournalPlant genetic resources: characterization and utilization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • long-term storage
  • atmospheric oxidation
  • lipid-peroxidation
  • moisture-content
  • dry conditions
  • date seed
  • oxygen
  • germination
  • viability
  • survival


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