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Journal Articles Comptes Rendus Biologies Year : 2008

Intracellular glasses and seed survival in the dry state

J. Buitink
Olivier Leprince


So-called orthodox seeds can resist complete desiccation and survive the dry state for extended periods of time. During drying, the cellular viscosity increases dramatically and in the dry state, the cytoplasm transforms into a glassy state. The formation of intracellular glasses is indispensable to survive the dry state. Indeed, the storage stability of seeds is related to the packing density and molecular mobility of the intracellular glass, suggesting that the physico-chemical properties of intracellular glasses provide stability for long-term survival. Whereas seeds contain large amounts of soluble non-reducing sugars, which are known to be good glass formers, detailed in vivo measurements using techniques such as FTIR and EPR spectroscopy reveal that these intracellular glasses have properties that are quite different from those of simple sugar glasses. Intracellular glasses exhibit slow molecular mobility and a high molecular packing, resembling glasses made of mixtures of sugars with proteins, which potentially interact with additional cytoplasmic components such as salts, organic acids and amino acids. Above the glass transition temperature, the cytoplasm of biological systems still exhibits a low molecular mobility and a high stability, which serves as an ecological advantage, keeping the seeds stable under adverse conditions of temperature or water content that bring the tissues out of the glassy state. To cite this article: J. Buitink, O. Leprince, C. R. Biologies 331 (2008).

Dates and versions

hal-00729873 , version 1 (07-09-2012)



J. Buitink, Olivier Leprince. Intracellular glasses and seed survival in the dry state. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 2008, 331 (10), pp.788-795. ⟨10.1016/j.crvi.2008.08.002⟩. ⟨hal-00729873⟩
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