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Seed priming enhances early growth and improves area of soil exploration by roots

Blunk, Sebastian; De Heer, Martine I.; Malik, Ali Hafeez; Fredlund, Kenneth; Ekblad, Tobias; Sturrock, Craig J.; Mooney, Sacha J.


Sebastian Blunk

Martine I. De Heer

Ali Hafeez Malik

Kenneth Fredlund

Tobias Ekblad

Professor of Soil Physics


Introduction: Seed priming has been conducted for centuries with growth advantages reported for a variety of different crops. Previous work has suggested priming does not offer a yield advantage despite an increased early growth if grown under ideal conditions. However, how these advantages unfold in regards to early root development is largely unknown.
Results: We observed accelerated germination speed in primed seeds regardless of applied seed enhancement technology i.e. coating or pelleting. Additionally, we found significant differences in lateral root development in primed seeds vs non-primed seeds. Furthermore, we recorded an increase in volume and surface of embryo and perisperm indicating a distinct morphological change during the germination process of primed seeds compared to non-primed seeds.
Conclusions: We attribute the enhanced early plant development in primed seeds to increased root development and thus enhanced volume of the soil resource mined for nutrients. This improvement can be detected four days after emergence within the root system throughout the early plant development despite an early transition from seed reserves to soil based growth. The understanding of below ground root architecture characteristics can improve the selection of appropriate seed enhancement technologies and seedbed management practices.


Blunk, S., De Heer, M. I., Malik, A. H., Fredlund, K., Ekblad, T., Sturrock, C. J., & Mooney, S. J. (2019). Seed priming enhances early growth and improves area of soil exploration by roots. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 158, 1-11.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 6, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 10, 2018
Publication Date Feb 28, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 8, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 11, 2019
Journal Environmental and Experimental Botany
Print ISSN 0098-8472
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 158
Pages 1-11
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Seed priming enhances early growth and improves area of soil exploration by roots; Journal Title: Environmental and Experimental Botany; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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