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Name: Laura
Status: student
Grade: N/A
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My question is:Is there a non-radioactive chemical I can use to test the depth of tissue damage in bean seeds caused by extreme cold? I am doing a science project on the effects of extreme cold on seeds, and last year discovered that seeds frozen with dry ice for 24 hours grew much faster than thier counterparts that hadn't been frozen. I hypothesized that the freezing process only damages the testa (the outer part of the seed), thereby making it easier for the seed to gather nutrients and set up a root system. I need a chemical that can be used to test how deeply the tissues were damaged, thereby proving or disproving my hypothesis. I've already asked my science teacher, and the only chemical he could come up with was radioactive, so I though I'd ask you.

What I'd recommend here is to freeze more seeds than you are going to plant. So you start with two groups of seeds, half of which you freeze and half of which you don't. From each group of seeds, you plant some and cut open the rest to inspect them. Perhaps you look at their cells under a microscope, perhaps you stain them with some sort of dye. If you inspect enough seeds from each group, you should be able to get a representative sample of the seeds from each treatment, without having to directly inspect the seeds you plant. You just have to make sure that the seeds you plant and the seeds you cut open are the same in every other way - they were from the same packet, they look about the same, they were all frozen in the same way.

Richard Barrans Jr., Ph.D.

This site mentions a "seed stain test" to determine viability. Perhaps helpful.

Anthony R. Brach, Ph.D.

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