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Tocopherols, tocotrienols and fatty acids as indicators of natural ageing in Pinus sylvestris seeds

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During long-term storage, Scots pine ( Pinus sylvestris L.) seeds are susceptible to ageing, leading to declined vigour and poor germinability. To characterize biochemical changes associated with this ageing, vitamin E and fatty acid compositions of Scots pine seeds stored for 3–31 years were analysed. The seeds contained seven homologues of the vitamin E family: α-, -, - and -tocopherols (T) and α-, - and -tocotrienol (T3). The major tocopherol was -T, constituting on average 62.1% of total vitamin E. Total vitamin E concentration was markedly lower in older seeds, e.g. 21-year-old seeds contained 52% less vitamin E than the reference for high-quality seed. The α-T concentration was affected the most by seed age, whereas the -T concentration decreased more gradually and the concentrations of the other E vitamers seemed to remain relatively constant during natural ageing. Ageing also induced changes in the fatty acid composition of the seeds, e.g . a 29.6% reduction in the unsaturation/saturation ratio. These biochemical changes were associated with decreased germinability and increased electrolyte leakage.

Keywords: Germinability; Scots pine; vitamin E

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Division of Pharmaceutical Biology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, Finland 2: Division of Food Chemistry, Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, University of Helsinki, Finland 3: Department of Forest Ecology, University of Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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