Optimal disinfection times for seeds of Mediterranean orchids propagated on nutrient media
A time-consuming yet mandatory step during in vitro sexual propagation of orchids is the treatment of seeds with a disinfecting solution that also serves to scarify the seeds. If the seeds are not properly disinfected, microorganisms grow within the culture vessel, thus reducing the efficacy of the process and burdening the operation with unnecessary materials and labour. On the other hand, a long period of disinfection may damage the seed. The literature is inconclusive with respect to the proper combination of solution strength and duration of the treatment, especially with respect to Mediterranean orchids. The objective of this research is to determine optimal disinfection/scarification times for two species with thin and thick seed coats, respectively. Seeds of Anacamptis laxiflora (Lam.) and Himantoglossum robertianum (Loisel.) were treated in 1% NaClO solution for 5, 15, 25, 35 and 45 minutes and sown in modified organic Malmgren medium. Logistic regression models were fitted to the results. Due to the small number of observations per treatment, regression models of infection rates on treatment duration had no more predictive ability than the mean infection rate. On the other hand, regression models of germination rates on treatment duration proved statistically significant or nearly so. Treatment of only a few minutes in 1% NaClO seems to be optimal for seeds with relatively permeable seed coats such as those of A. laxiflora (Lam.). Conversely, treatment of 45 minutes in 1% NaClO may be inadequate for seeds with relatively impermeable seed coats such as those of H. robertianum (Loisel.).
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