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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2023, Vol. 22 Issue (3): 727-737    DOI: 10.1016/j.jia.2022.08.058
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Discrimination of individual seed viability by using the oxygen consumption technique and headspace-gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry

TU Ke-ling1, YIN Yu-lin2, YANG Li-ming3, WANG Jian-hua1, SUN Qun1#

1 Department of Seed Science and Biotechnology, College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University/The Innovation Center (Beijing) of Crop Seeds Whole-Process Technology Research, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs/Beijing Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Beijing 100193, P.R.China

2 College of Arts and Science of Hubei Normal University, Huangshi 435109, P.R.China

3 College of Science, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, P.R.China

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摘要  鉴定和筛选优质种子对于提高作物产量至关重要。本研究的目的是通过预测单粒种子的潜在发芽能力,判定种子是否具有生活力,以改进作物种子的精选技术,从而提高种子质量。本研究基于种子萌发早期的耗氧量(Q)和种子的挥发性气体成分对单粒种子的生活力进行判定。甜玉米种子、辣椒、小麦种子,有生活力和无生活力种子,其呼吸特征值——最终耗氧量(Q120)均存在差异。在此基础上,为了缩短Q2技术的测量过程,尽可能地减少测量过程中对种子造成不可逆的损害,我们探究了新的耗氧量变量Qt,将辣椒、甜玉米和小麦种子生活力评估的时间分别提前到12、6和9小时,生活力预测的准确率分别为91.9%、97.7%和96.2%。此过程可摒弃无生活力的种子,从而提高种子批的质量,将三种作物的发芽率分别从原始的86.6%、90.9%和53.8%提高到100%。考虑到单粒甜玉米种子的质量较大,存在从单粒种子上检测到挥发性气体成分的可能性,我们进一步尝试了将空气相色谱-离子迁移谱技术(HS-GC-IMS)应用于单粒甜玉米种子的生活力判定,共鉴定出48个峰,其中38种挥发性物质被表征,包括醇、醛、酸和酯。然而,由于单粒甜玉米种子之间挥发性气体成分的差异极为细微,有生活力种子和无生活力种子之间未检测到显著差异,基于挥发性气体成分的主成分分析也无法区分这两种类型的甜玉米种子。本研究所采取的这些方法可为单粒种子生活力的快速鉴定提供参考。


Identifying and selecting high-quality seeds is crucial for improving crop yield.  The purpose of this study was to improve the selection of crop seeds based on separating vital seeds from dead seeds, by predicting the potential germination ability of each seed, and thus improving seed quality.  The methods of oxygen consumption (Q) of seeds and the headspace-gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry (HS-GC-IMS) were evaluated for identifying the viability of individual seeds.  Firstly, the oxygen consumption technique showed clear differences among the values related to respiratory characteristics for seeds that were either vital or not, and the discrimination ability of final oxygen consumption (Q120) was achieved not only in sweet corn seeds but also in pepper and wheat seeds.  Besides, Qt was established as a new variable to shorten the measuring process in the Q2 (oxygen sensor) procedure, which was significantly related to the viability of individual seeds.  To minimize seed damage during measurement, the timing for viability evaluation was pinpointed at the 12, 6 and 9 h for pepper, sweet corn, and wheat seeds based on the new variables concerning oxygen consumption (i.e., Q12, Q6 and Q9, respectively).  The accuracies of viability prediction were 91.9, 97.7 and 96.2%, respectively.  Dead seeds were identified and hence discarded, leading to an enhancement in the quality of the seed lot as indicated by an increase in germination percentage, from 86.6, 90.9, and 53.8% to all at 100%.  We then used the HS-GC-IMS to determine the viability of individual sweet corn seeds, noting that corn seed has a heavier weight so the volatile gas components are more likely to be detected.  A total of 48 chromatographic peaks were identified, among which 38 target compounds were characterized, including alcohols, aldehydes, acids and esters.  However, there were no significant differences between the vital and dead seeds, due to the trace amount volatile composition differences among the individual seeds.  Furthermore, a PCA based on the signal intensities of the target volatile compounds obtained was found to lose its effectiveness, as it was unable to distinguish those two types of sweet corn seeds.  These strategies can provide a reference for the rapid detection of single seed viability.

Keywords:  headspace-gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry        oxygen consumption        seed respiration        sweet corn        tomato        wheat  
Received: 13 September 2021   Accepted: 10 November 2021
Fund: This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFD0100903).
About author:  TU Ke-ling, E-mail:; #Correspondence SUN Qun, E-mail:,

Cite this article: 

TU Ke-ling, YIN Yu-lin, YANG Li-ming, WANG Jian-hua, SUN Qun. 2023. Discrimination of individual seed viability by using the oxygen consumption technique and headspace-gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 22(3): 727-737.

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