University of California

2,3,5-Triphenyltetrazolium chloride as an indicator of germinability and dormancy of gladiolus cormels


Chester N. Roistacher
J. G. Bald
Kenneth F. Baker

Authors Affiliations

Chester N. Roistacher was Senior Laboratory Technician, Agricultural Experiment Station, Los Angeles, now Principal Laboratory Technician, Department Plant Pathology, Citrus Experiment Station, Riverside; J. G. Bald was Plant Pathologists, Agricultural Experiment Station, Los Angeles; Kenneth F. Baker was Plant Pathologists, Agricultural Experiment Station, Los Angeles.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 26(17):685-704. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v26n17p685. September 1957.

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During trials of hot-water treatment of gladiolus cormels (Roistacher, Baker, and Bald, 1957)4 it appeared that a method for quickly determining the stage of dormancy of cormels might make it possible to treat them effectively without injury or without prolonging dormancy. The chemical 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride was investigated as a possible indicator of cormel dormancy.

2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride5 is a water-soluble colorless salt that forms insoluble carmine red triphenyl formazan when in a reduced state. It has been extensively investigated as an indicator of high metabolic activity in a variety of plant and animal tissues, since the property of turning red in active metabolizing tissue was first reported by (Kuhn and Jerchel (1941)).

It has had wide use on many kinds of seeds as an index of germinability, since the method was introduced for this purpose by (Lakon (1942a),(b). The literature on this use has been reviewed by (Porter, Durrell, and Romm (1947)), (Flemion and Poole (1948)), and (Smith (1951)). A good correlation generally has been noted between the appearance of red coloration in the embryos and the percentage germination in a given lot of seed, but numerous factors must be taken into account for successful commercial application to a specific plant. The general method has also been adapted to measure the damage (reduced germinability) to seeds from freezing (Goodsell, 1948); (Bennett and Loomis, 1949); (Parker, 1953), excessive heating (Fuchs and Beiler, 1943), (1948); (Brewer, 1949); (Macleod, 1950); (Lambou, 1953), drying (Brewer, 1949); (Parker, 1953), and cathode rays (Lambou, 1953), as well as probable ability to grow in cold soil (Germ and Kietreiber, 1954).

Tetrazolium salts have also been used to measure vitality of plant tissues other than seeds. (Mattson, Jensen, and Dutcher (1947)) found that TTC would stain tissue from the fleshy part of apples, oranges, and grapes, mushroom gills, carrot roots, white and sweet potatoes, young leaves, and stigmas and ovaries of pollinated flowers, as well as animal tissue. (Waugh (1948)) tested dormant twigs of several kinds of trees, and found that TTC stained the cambial layers. Twigs killed by heat gave no reaction. (Dufrenoy and Pratt (1948)) showed that the upper nodes of sugar cane stems reduced TTC.

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Roistacher C, Bald J, Baker K. 1957. 2,3,5-Triphenyltetrazolium chloride as an indicator of germinability and dormancy of gladiolus cormels. Hilgardia 26(17):685-704. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v26n17p685
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