Arabidopsis thaliana is widely used as model organism in plant biology. Although not of agronomic significance, it offers important advantages for basic research in genetics and molecular biology including the availability of a large number of mutants and genetically modified lines. However, Arabidopsis seed longevity is limited and seeds stored for more than 10 years usually show a very low capacity for germination.
The influence of ultrasonic stimulation was investigated on the germination of A. thaliana L. seeds. All experiments have been performed using a frequency of 45 kHz at constant temperature (24 °C). No germination rate differences were observed when using freshly collected seeds. However, using artificially deteriorated seeds, our results show that short ultrasonic stimulation (<1 min) significantly increased germination. Ultrasonic stimulation application of 30 s is the optimal treatment. A significant increase in the germination rate was also verified in naturally aged seeds after ultrasonic stimulation. Scanning electron microscopy observations showed an increase in the presence of pores in the seed coat after sonication that may be the cause, at least in part, of the increase in germination. The ultrasound treated seeds developed normally to mature fertile plants.
Ultrasound technology can be used to enhance the germination process of old Arabidopsis seeds without negatively affecting seedling development. This effect seems to be, at least in part, due to the opening of pores in the seed coat. The use of ultrasonic stimulation in Arabidopsis seeds may contribute to the recovering of long time stored lines.