Seed Germination

Some people, when they think of germination, think of a seed sprouting. Very plain, simple image in their mind, especially since there is so much more going on in the small seed. New Life is growing. Germination is the sprouting of a seed, through which a lot of plants reproduce, though not all. Water is a major trigger in the germination stage, playing a major role also later in the plant’s life. Though seeds are not the only way for plants to reproduce, it is one of the easiest to guarantee that the seed will sprout in the right environment. Germination is triggered by water, and the baby plant begins to grow.
Germination is highly important because it is during this time that seeds begin to develop their own means to supply food for them, thus allowing the plant to survive. Without plants, humans would not have a lot of things plants provide. Humans would not have things like certain medicines, teas, spices, and basic food items like apples or lettuce to use without the survival of that species. Although people think you need seeds, plants do manage to reproduce without the use of seeds. Some use a process called runners, when a new plant splits off the parent plant.
However, in a typical plant (called Angiosperms, meaning any flowering plants), seeds are created during fertilization. This happens when two parent plants are pollinated. Once the eggs have been fertilized, the parent plant dies as it releases its seeds. Seeds come with a pre-prepared energy supply, protective coat (provided from maternal plant), and an embryo; the actual baby plant. Each part of the new creation has its own special function that helps maintain the young plant alive. There are many more parts to a seed that are not a major concern, but each does serve a purpose.

There, also, the main ones that have many smaller pieces that are part of the whole. For example, the embryo includes many small details of the baby plant. Things like an axis, where the cotyledons (seed leaves) are attached, epicotyl (above the cotyledons), hypocotyl (below the cotyledons), and a radicle (the lower portion of the hypocotyl). A seed is germinating now has its sprout growing, the radicle become the roots, and epicotyl becomes the stem and first leaves. The life cycle of this plant has begun. Of course, certain parts of the seed grow during germination.
It is part of the whole growing process. The baby roots (the radicle), for example, come pre-prepared in the seed, just waiting to start its growth. When a seed finally finds a suitable environment to sprout, usually the first thing seen is the former-radicle breaking the outer shell. Roots tend to be one of the very first things developed in a plant. This is because they are so essential to get nutrients and water for photosynthesis. “The first visible sign of germination is the emergence of the radicle, or embryonic root” (Hopkins, William G. “seeds. ” Science Online.
Facts on File, Inc. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. ). The epicotyl usually tends to grow next, becoming the new plant’s stem. The stem is highly important for the plant’s survival all throughout its life (for trees, the equivalent would be the trunk). The stem is used to carry water, minerals, and other such supplies up and down the plant. The epicotyl, as mentioned before, has several other parts. It also becomes the sprout’s first leaves. Leaves are also another vital part of the plant. The leaf’s job is to exchange gases and collect sunlight for the plant’s process of collecting energy.
The epicotyl is the part that for both major plant groups (Gymnosperms (non-flowering plants), and Angiosperms) that most often shoots up above ground. The epicotyl is a very essential part to the plant and its survival. The seed’s parts, at this stage in life, have now grown and developed. The plant now has gone from a seed that had its food provided into a plant that has functional roots, stem, and leaves. Roots suck in minerals and water from the soil, as well as keeping the plant in its place, rooted firmly to the ground in order not to be blown away with the wind. The leaves begin to respire and take in the bright sunlight.
All of these gathered materials travel up and down the stem until they turn into a sugar-like substance that is the plant’s food, its energy and lifeline. In the end, germination was just a starting point in the plant’s recently begun life. The plant now has another objective, to create new seeds so the cycle begins again. Plants have stages in their life. Germination is, as stated, a stage in plant life. Another one is called dormancy (inactivity). It occurs before the germination of the seed has begun. The seed is ‘sleeping’ during dormancy, and it doesn’t appear to show any signs of life.
It remains inactive during this stage in a plant’s life. Dormancy is another highly appreciated part of a plant’s life. This is because it does not allow the seed to go into germination stage until the seed is placed in right environment to start growing. The environment include the temperature, weather, soil, and, in most cases, the amount of water. Seeds may remain dormant for as long as they need. Dormancy may last hours, days, or even years. It all depends whether the seeds deems living in that area livable or deathly. Right after the dormancy stage is germination. Water is highly needed during the beginning of germination.
Water is needed in order for the plant to sprout, since “Mature plants that may be 75% or 80%water …”(Hopkins). However, seeds are about 5% water from lack of activity during dormancy. The first thing a ‘waking’ seed does is soak up a lot of water because of its dehydration during dormancy. “Absorbing water is a seed’s first activity” (“Germination. ” Experiment central. U*X*L, 2008. Gale Student Resources in Context. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. ). Apart from keeping the plant alive, “The absorption of water causes the embryo to swell and split open the see coat” (Keating, Richard C. “Germination. ” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2012. Web. 6 Oct. 2012. ). So, basically, water triggers growth within the seed by causing the embryo to start its growth process.
This sets all the other parts of a seed into a growth spurt. But even after germination is complete, the plant still needs water to support its life. Water is needed for any plant, even ones that reproduce without a seed and therefore skip the dormancy stage. As previously noted, some plants do not even use a seed in order to reproduce. There are many different ways for a plant to reproduce asexually. One example of reproduction without a seed is runners. This is where a parent plant starts another plant from itself.
The offspring uses its dying parent as a food supply until it can produce its own food. This time in the new plant’s life could be considered its germination stage. Even in this method, both of the plants still do need water, because there is no life without water. Even though water is really appreciated in an environment for seeds and most plants, a steady supply is not always required. For instance, Cacti seem to live fine in a desert, even though there is not really a lot of constant water there. So now that germination is over, the seed has grown; it has effectively done its job, ensuring the survival of its species.
In the end, seeds pretty much sleep until it finds itself in special circumstances that allow it to grow, mainly needing water in typical plants. It’s still a baby plant until it actually starts making its own food, kind-of like when kids move out, when they start producing money for their own meals. Germination is pretty important part of a plant’s life since they are easily adaptable during this stage. They can learn how to survive harsh circumstances and therefor prolong their own survival. There are thousands of plant species on the verge of extinction- and one may very well be a cure for cancer and other major diseases today.


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