Endosperm weakening and radicle elongation of lettuce seeds were separated by using sodium dichloroisocyanurate, and the roles of ROS in these processes were studied. A novel method was used for endosperm puncture force measurement.
Endosperm cap (CAP) weakening and embryo elongation growth are prerequisites for the completion of lettuce seed germination. Although it has been proposed that the cell wall loosening underlying these processes results from an enzymatic mechanism, it is still unclear which enzymes are involved. Here it is shown that reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are non-enzymatic factors, may be involved in the two processes. In Guasihong lettuce seeds imbibed in water, O2·– and H2O2 accumulated and peroxidase activity increased in the CAP, whereas its puncture force decreased. In addition, in the radicle, the increase in embryo growth potential was accompanied by accumulation of O2·– and an increase in peroxidase activity. Imbibing seeds in 0.3% sodium dichloroisocyanurate (SDIC) reduced endosperm viability and the levels of O2·–, H2O2, and peroxidase activity in the CAP, whereas the decrease in its puncture force was inhibited. However, in the embryo, SDIC did not affect the accumulation of O2·–, peroxidase activity, and the embryo growth potential. As a result, SDIC caused atypical germination, in which the endosperm ruptured at the boundary between the CAP and lateral endosperm. ROS scavengers and ROS generation inhibitors inhibited the CAP weakening and also decreased the embryo growth potential, thus decreasing the percentage of seed germination. Exogenous ROS and ROS generation inducers increased the percentage of CAP rupture to some extent, and the addition of H2O2 to 0.3% SDIC enabled some seeds to undergo typical germination.