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Plant Science. Plant Growth & Development: Seed Germination Instructional Materials Service Texas A&M University - 8385 -. Objectives. After completing the topic, the student will be able to: 1. explain the importance of seeds; 2. identify the structural parts of a seed;

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plant science
Plant Science

Plant Growth & Development: Seed Germination

Instructional Materials ServiceTexas A&M University

- 8385 -

  • After completing the topic, the student will be able to:
  • 1. explain the importance of seeds;
  • 2. identify the structural parts of a seed;
  • 3. differentiate between monocot seeds and dicot seeds;
  • 4. discuss environmental and seed dormancy factors that affect seed germination;
  • 5. describe examples of adverse conditions that affect seed germination; and
  • 6. outline the seed germination process.

Plant Growth & Development:

Seed Germination

  • Seeds
  • Seed Classification
  • Seed Germination
  • Seed Dormancy
  • The Germination Process
  • Leaf Formation


  • The life cycle of many plants begins with a seed. Seeds are essential for the survival and continued existence of many plant species.
  • Seeds contain the genetic material to produce another plant with identical, similar, or unlike characteristics of the parent plant.


  • All seeds contain an embryo and have their own food supply.
  • The embryo consists of a plumule, epicotyl, cotyledons, hypocotyl, and a radicle.


  • The plumule includes the young primordial leaves and growing point of the stem.




  • The epicotyl is the portion of the stem above the cotyledon.



  • The cotyledons are the seed leaves used for food storage.



  • The hypocotyl is the portion of the stem below the cotyledons.






  • The radicle is the young embryonic root and root tip.

Seed Classification

  • Flowering plants are classified as monocotyledons (monocots) or dicotyledons (dicots) depending on how many cotyledons they possess, one or two.
  • A cotyledon is a part of a plant that either stores food or grows to become the first leaves to undergo photosynthesis.

Seed Classification

  • Seeds of dicot plants have two cotyledons.
  • Seeds of monocot plants have one cotyledon.









Seed Coat






Axis of Embryo







Dicots include: Garden beans, legumes,alfalfa, soybeans, and cowpeas.


Corn, wheat, rice, and oats are typical monocots.

seed germination
Seed Germination

Factors affecting seed germination:

  • Moisture
  • Temperature
  • Oxygen
  • Light
  • A seed must have an ample supply of moisture for germination to occur.
  • Moisture content needed for germination to occur ranges from 25% to 75%.
  • Once the germination process begins, a dry period or lack of water will cause the death of the developing embryo.
  • Temperature affects both the germination percentage and the germination rate.
  • Germination rate is lower at low temperatures.
  • Most plant seeds germinate at an optimum temperature range of 68°F to 120°F.
  • Oxygen is necessary for respiration to occur within a seed. Respiration converts the stored food in the seed into energy for germination.
  • Some seeds require less oxygen than others.
  • Oxygen deficiency occurs if seeds are planted in flooded or compacted soil.
  • The presence or absence of light may or may not have an effect on germination.
  • Light is not as important as a viable seed, germination medium, water, optimum temperature, and oxygen.
seed dormancy
Seed Dormancy
  • Most seeds produced by mature plants pass through a period of inactivity or dormancy prior to germination. During this period of inactivity, seeds remain viable.
  • Dormancy may be internal, external, or a combination of both.
embryo internal dormancy
Embryo (Internal) Dormancy
  • Dormancy may occur when a mature seed contains an underdeveloped or immature embryo.
  • Internal dormancy of most seeds involves a period of after-ripening. After-ripening occurs when a seed does not or is not ready to germinate until it completes a certain stage of development.
  • Some seeds mature in the fruit but do not germinate until released from the fruit.
seedcoat external dormancy
Seedcoat (External) Dormancy
  • A seed may require a certain amount of light to germinate causing the seed to remain dormant until exposed to light.
  • The seedcoat may be hard and/or thick, preventing the absorption of water, intake of oxygen, or physically preventing the expansion of the embryo.
adverse conditions
Adverse Conditions

Conditions that may affect the viability

and germination of seeds include:

  • Mechanical Injury
  • Diseases
  • Improper Storage
  • Age
  • Inadequate Growing Medium
the germination process
The Germination Process

Steps in the germination process:

  • Water Absorption
  • Radicle Emergence
  • Plant Emergence
  • Leaf Formation
  • Photosynthesis
water absorption
Water Absorption
  • The seed absorbs water and oxygen.
  • Absorbed oxygen causes the seed to swell and increase in size.
  • The seed secretes enzymes that convert insoluble starches into soluble sugars.
  • Soluble sugars dissolve in the absorbed water and are used as food by the plant embryo.
emergence of radicle
Emergence of Radicle

The seed coat ruptures

permitting the young

root (radicle) to emerge

and grow downward to

anchor the plant.

emergence of radicle1
Emergence of Radicle
  • In a dicot, the seed coat (testa) splits near the hilum, and the young root becomes the primary root from which all branching roots form.
emergence of radicle2
Emergence of Radicle
  • In a monocot, the young root breaks through the coleorhiza (sheath).
  • The primary root system that develops from the radicle is temporary and is replaced later with a fibrous root system.
plant emergence
Plant Emergence
  • The above-soil-surface portion of the plant emerges as the radicle develops into the plant’s root system.
  • In a dicot, the hypocotyl elongates, forming an arch and pulling the cotyledons upward.
  • The hypocotyl arch straightens to a vertical position after passing through the soil surface.
plant emergence monocot
Plant Emergence (monocot)
  • In a germinating monocot seed, no hypocotyl arch exists to push the leaf portions through the soil.
  • Instead, the coleoptile covering the plumule (tight roll of leaves) pierces the soil surface exposing the developing plant to the sunlight.
dicot germination
Dicot Germination

Two types of seed germination occur

among dicots based on how the

seedlings emerge.

  • Epigeous Germination
  • Hypogeous Germination
epigeous germination
Epigeous Germination
  • In epigeous germination, the hypocotyl of the embryo elongates and raises the plumule, epicotyl, and cotyledons through the soil surface and above the ground.
  • Garden beans have an epigeous type of germination.
hypogeous germination
Hypogeous Germination
  • In hypogeous germination, the epicotyl elongates and raises the plumule above the ground.
  • The cotyedons (which are usually still enclosed by the seed coat) and the hypocotyl never emerge and remain below the surface of the soil.
  • Peas have a hypogeous type of germination.
dicot leaf formation
Dicot Leaf Formation
  • After emerging through the soil, new leaves form and photosynthesis begins.
  • In a dicot, the hypocotyl arch straightens, and the plumule is shed.
  • The cotyledons spread apart to serve as the first leaves to transfer food to other parts of the plant.
dicot leaf formation1
Dicot Leaf Formation
  • Once exposed to the air and the light, the epicotyl begins to develop into the stem and true leaves are formed.
  • The cotyledons shrivel and die as the seedling plant uses their stored food supply.
dicot leaf formation2
Dicot Leaf Formation
  • The developing true leaves continue to photosynthesize and produce a constant supply of food reserves.
  • Hypocotyl elongation is restrained by growth hormones.
monocot leaf formation
Monocot Leaf Formation
  • After the coleoptile and plumule of a monocot emerge, the first true leaves begin to form.
  • The food supply in the endosperm is used up and photosynthesis begins in the true leaves as they develop.
monocot leaf formation1
Monocot Leaf Formation
  • Growth hormones prevent further development of the coleoptile and plumule.
  • At the time the coleoptile appears above the soil surface, a second root system begins to develop at the base of the coleoptile to form nodal or adventitious roots.

Shannon Houy, Graduate Technician, Instructional Materials Service, researched and developed the information used in this PowerPoint Presentation.

Christine Stetter, Artist, Instructional Materials Service, developed and illustrated this PowerPoint Presentation.

Keith Zamzow, Curriculum Specialist, Instructional Materials Service, edited and reviewed this PowerPoint Presentation.

Vickie Marriott, Office Software Associate, Instructional Materials Service, edited this PowerPoint Presentation.



Reproduction or redistribution of all, or part, of this presentation without written permission is prohibited.

Instructional Materials Service

Texas A&M University

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College Station, Texas 77843-2588