Increases in the longevity of desiccation-phase developing rice seeds: response to high temperature drying depends on harvest moisture content


• Background and Aims Earlier studies have suggested that the drying conditions routinely used by genebanks may not be optimal for subsequent seed longevity. The aim of this study was to compare the effect of hot-air drying with low temperature drying on subsequent seed longevity for 20 diverse rice accessions and to consider how factors related to seed production history might influence the results. • Methods Seeds were produced according to normal regeneration procedures at IRRI. They were harvested at different times (harvest date and days after anthesis (DAA), once for each accession) and dried either in a drying room (DR; 15% RH, 15°C), or in a flat-bed heated-air batch dryer (BD; 45°C, 8 h d-1) for up to 6 daily cycles followed by drying in the DR. Relative longevity was assessed by storage at 10.9% moisture content (m.c.) and 45°C. • Key Results Initial drying in the BD resulted in significantly greater longevity compared with the DR for 14 accessions (seed lots): the period of time for viability to fall to 50% for seeds dried in the BD as a percentage of that for seeds dried throughout in the DR varied between 1.3 and 372.2% for these 14 accessions. The seed lots that responded the most were harvested earlier in the season and at higher moisture content. Drying in the BD did not reduce subsequent longevity compared with DR drying for any of the remaining accessions. • Conclusions Seeds harvested at a m.c. where, according to the moisture desorption isotherm, they could still be metabolically active (>16.2%), may be in the first stage of the post-mass maturity, desiccation phase of seed development and able to increase longevity in response to hot-air drying. The genebank standards regarding seed drying for rice and, perhaps, for other tropical species should be reconsidered

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