Seed germination/(seed germination process)

Seed germination

The process by which a plant develops from a seed into a seedling is called germination. Until conditions are right for germination, seeds stay dormant. For seeds to germinate, they require water, oxygen, and the right temperature.

A seed’s seed coat allows water and oxygen to enter the seed when it is in the right environment. The cells of the embryo begin to expand. The seed coat then splits open, allowing the root to first show itself, then the shoot with the leaves and stem.

By warming the soil, sunlight aids in germination. Certain seeds, however rare, require direct sunshine to germinate. Sunlight serves as the main energy source for plant development through the process of photosynthesis once leaves have grown.

A seed has all the necessary elements to start a new life. An embryonic (baby) plant with an embryonic root, stem, and leaves is contained inside the seed coat. Moreover, the endosperm, a nutrient-rich food source found in seeds, provides the necessary nourishment for the seed to develop.

The seed leaves, or cotyledons, take up the food supply and feed the growing plant as it grows. The plant starts producing its own nourishment through photosynthesis as soon as the leaves emerge.

Seeds are special structures, their seed coverings shielding the fragile plant embryos inside. Many seeds can withstand protracted droughts, intense heat waves, or below-freezing temperatures and will germinate when conditions are right.

seed germination process

The seed germination process involves several sequential steps that transform a dormant seed into a young seedling. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the typical seed germination process:

Absorption of Water (Imbibition):

The absorption of water during seed germination is a critical step in initiating the process. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the imbibition process:

  1. Dry Seed:

    • The seed is in a dormant, dry state, often with a protective seed coat that prevents water from entering.
  2. Contact with Water:

    • When the seed comes into contact with water, the imbibition process begins.
  3. Water Uptake:

    • The dry seed absorbs water through its seed coat.
    • The seed absorbs water until it reaches a point of saturation, causing the seed to swell.
  4. Activation of Metabolic Processes:

    • The absorption of water triggers metabolic processes within the seed.
    • Enzymes that were in an inactive state become activated.
  5. Softening of Seed Coat:

    • The seed coat softens due to water absorption, allowing the emerging embryo to break through.
  6. Initiation of Growth:

    • As water is absorbed, the seed begins the process of rehydration.
    • This rehydration is essential for activating cellular processes and initiating growth.

The imbibition process is crucial because it provides the necessary conditions for the activation of enzymes and metabolic activities within the seed. These activated processes, in turn, lead to the breakdown of stored nutrients and the emergence of the radicle (embryonic root) and shoot (embryonic stem), marking the beginning of seed germination. The imbibition process is influenced by factors such as temperature, soil moisture, and the permeability of the seed coat.

Activation of Enzymes:

The activation of enzymes is a critical step in the seed germination process. Enzymes are biological molecules that act as catalysts, speeding up chemical reactions. In the context of seed germination, enzymes play a key role in breaking down complex substances stored in the seed into simpler forms that the developing embryo can use for growth.

Here’s a more detailed explanation of the activation of enzymes during seed germination:

  1. Imbibition: The process begins with imbibition, where the dry seed absorbs water from its surroundings.

  2. Rehydration: As water is absorbed, the seed undergoes rehydration, leading to the swelling of the seed.

  3. Enzyme Activation: The absorbed water triggers the activation of enzymes within the seed. These enzymes were present in an inactive form in the dry seed but become active in the presence of water.

  4. Hydrolysis of Reserves: Activated enzymes catalyze hydrolysis reactions. Hydrolysis involves breaking down complex molecules, such as starches and proteins stored in the seed, into simpler forms like sugars and amino acids.

    • Amylase: Breaks down starch into maltose (a sugar).
    • Protease: Breaks down proteins into amino acids.
  5. Release of Stored Energy: The breakdown of complex molecules releases stored energy, which is crucial for the initial stages of seedling growth before it can perform photosynthesis.

  6. Metabolic Activation: The activated enzymes also initiate various metabolic processes within the seed, providing the necessary building blocks for the growth and development of the emerging seedling.

Overall, the activation of enzymes is a fundamental aspect of seed germination, allowing the dormant seed to transition from a state of dormancy to active growth. The released energy and simpler molecules produced through enzymatic activity fuel the early stages of seedling development until the plant is capable of sustaining itself through photosynthesis.


Respiration is a crucial physiological process that occurs during seed germination and is essential for providing the energy necessary for the growing seedling. Respiration is the process by which cells break down organic molecules, such as sugars, to release energy. In the context of seed germination, this energy is used to support the various metabolic activities required for the transformation of a dormant seed into an actively growing seedling.

Here’s a more detailed explanation of respiration during seed germination:

  1. Activation of Enzymes: As the dormant seed absorbs water and undergoes imbibition, enzymes become activated. These enzymes initiate the breakdown of stored complex molecules, such as starches, into simpler forms like sugars.

  2. Metabolic Processes: The activated enzymes and the breakdown of stored reserves set off various metabolic processes within the seed. These processes require energy.

  3. Respiratory Pathway: The energy needed for these metabolic activities is obtained through cellular respiration. In the case of germinating seeds, aerobic respiration is the primary pathway.

  4. Aerobic Respiration:

    • Glycolysis: The initial step where glucose (produced from the breakdown of starch) is converted into pyruvate.
    • Citric Acid Cycle (Krebs Cycle): Pyruvate enters the citric acid cycle, generating energy-rich molecules.
    • Electron Transport Chain (ETC): The energy-rich molecules produced in the citric acid cycle are used to generate ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the primary energy currency of cells.
    • Oxygen Consumption: Oxygen is required for the final steps of the electron transport chain, making this process aerobic.
  5. Energy Release: The overall result of aerobic respiration is the release of energy stored in the form of ATP. This energy is used to drive cellular processes, including the growth and elongation of the emerging radicle and shoot.

  6. Transition to Photosynthesis: As the seedling grows, it eventually transitions to performing photosynthesis, where it produces its own energy using sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water.

In summary, respiration during seed germination is a temporary process that provides the initial energy required for the seedling to establish itself and transition from relying on stored reserves to becoming a self-sustaining, photosynthetic organism.

Radicle Emergence:

Radicle emergence is a crucial stage in the seed germination process. The radicle is the embryonic root of a plant, and its emergence marks the beginning of root development. Here’s a more detailed explanation of radicle emergence:

  1. Imbibition:

    • Dry seeds absorb water, causing them to swell.
  2. Activation of Enzymes:

    • Enzymes within the seed become active, breaking down stored nutrients into simpler forms.
  3. Respiration:

    • The germinating seed undergoes respiration, releasing energy needed for growth.
  4. Radicle Emergence:

    • The radicle is the first part of the embryo to emerge from the seed coat.
    • It is the embryonic root that anchors the seedling in the soil.
    • The radicle begins to elongate and grow downward into the soil.
  5. Absorption of Water and Nutrients:

    • The radicle absorbs water and essential nutrients from the soil, supporting further growth.
  6. Formation of Root System:

    • As the radicle grows, it gives rise to lateral roots and establishes the primary root system of the plant.
    • The root system plays a crucial role in water and nutrient absorption from the soil.
  7. Stabilization and Anchoring:

    • The radicle helps anchor the seedling in the soil, providing stability against environmental factors such as wind or rain.
  8. Preparation for Shoot Emergence:

    • The successful emergence and development of the radicle create a foundation for the emergence of the shoot (embryonic stem) and the growth of the above-ground portion of the plant.

Radicle emergence is a critical step because it initiates the establishment of the plant’s root system, which is essential for nutrient and water uptake. The successful development of the radicle is often a key factor in determining the overall health and vigor of the plant as it transitions from a seed to a seedling.

Growth of the Shoot:

The growth of the shoot is a significant stage in the seed germination process, following the emergence of the radicle. The shoot represents the embryonic stem of the plant, and its development involves the upward growth of the plant above the soil surface. Here’s an overview of the growth of the shoot:

  1. Radicle Emergence:

    • The radicle, the embryonic root, emerges first from the seed and grows downward into the soil.
  2. Shoot Development:

    • Following radicle emergence, the shoot (embryonic stem) begins to grow upward toward the soil surface.
  3. Cotyledons or First True Leaves:

    • As the shoot elongates, it carries with it the cotyledons (seed leaves) or the first true leaves.
    • Cotyledons play a role in providing nutrients to the seedling until it can perform photosynthesis.
  4. Growth Factors:

    • The growth of the shoot is influenced by various factors, including light, temperature, and the availability of nutrients.
  5. Phototropism:

    • Phototropism is the growth response of the shoot toward light.
    • The shoot exhibits positive phototropism, meaning it grows towards a light source, which is essential for photosynthesis.
  6. Apical Meristem:

    • The apical meristem, located at the tip of the shoot, is a region of actively dividing cells.
    • It is responsible for the continued growth and development of the shoot.
  7. Leaf Expansion:

    • As the shoot continues to grow, leaves expand and develop, increasing the surface area available for photosynthesis.
  8. Photosynthesis:

    • With exposure to light, the shoot starts performing photosynthesis.
    • Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert light energy into chemical energy, providing the plant with the energy it needs for further growth.
  9. Establishment of True Leaves:

    • True leaves, which are distinct from cotyledons, develop and resemble the leaves of the mature plant.

The growth of the shoot is a critical phase as it leads to the establishment of the above-ground part of the plant. This phase is essential for the plant’s ability to capture sunlight, produce its own food through photosynthesis, and continue its development into a mature plant.

Expansion of Cotyledons or First True Leaves:

The expansion of cotyledons or the development of the first true leaves is a critical stage in the seed germination process. Cotyledons are the initial leaves produced by the embryo and play a vital role in supporting the seedling’s early growth. The expansion of cotyledons or the emergence of true leaves is described as follows:

  1. Cotyledon Expansion (Dicots):

    • In dicotyledonous plants (plants with two cotyledons), the cotyledons often expand after emerging from the seed coat.
    • Cotyledons function as temporary energy reserves, providing nutrients to the growing seedling until it can perform photosynthesis independently.
  2. First True Leaves:

    • Following cotyledon expansion, the seedling produces its first true leaves.
    • True leaves are distinct from cotyledons and closely resemble the leaves of the mature plant.
    • These leaves are capable of photosynthesis, contributing to the plant’s energy production.
  3. Photosynthetic Transition:

    • As the true leaves develop and expand, the seedling undergoes a transition from relying on stored nutrients in the cotyledons to generating its own energy through photosynthesis.
  4. Increased Surface Area:

    • The expansion of cotyledons or the emergence of true leaves results in an increased surface area for photosynthesis.
    • A larger surface area allows the plant to capture more sunlight, further supporting its growth.
  5. Nutrient Mobilization:

    • As the seedling matures, it mobilizes nutrients stored in the cotyledons to support the development of roots, stems, and additional leaves.
  6. Shift to Autotrophic Growth:

    • Autotrophic growth refers to the ability of the plant to produce its own food through photosynthesis.
    • The expansion of cotyledons or the development of true leaves marks the shift from heterotrophic (relying on stored nutrients) to autotrophic (self-sustaining) growth.

Overall, the expansion of cotyledons or the emergence of true leaves is a crucial step in the seedling’s journey toward becoming a self-sufficient, mature plant capable of reproduction.


Photosynthesis is the fundamental process by which green plants, algae, and some bacteria convert light energy into chemical energy stored in the form of glucose (a type of sugar). This process takes place in chloroplasts, specialized organelles containing the pigment chlorophyll. Here is an overview of the photosynthesis process:

  1. Light Absorption:

    • Chlorophyll pigments in the chloroplasts absorb sunlight, particularly in the red and blue regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  2. Water Uptake:

    • Water is absorbed by the plant’s roots from the soil and transported to the chloroplasts in the leaves.
  3. Light-Dependent Reactions:

    • In the thylakoid membrane of the chloroplasts, light energy is used to split water molecules into oxygen, protons, and electrons.
    • The energy from this process is captured in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and NADPH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate).
  4. Formation of ATP and NADPH:

    • ATP and NADPH act as energy carriers that provide the necessary energy for the next stage of photosynthesis.
  5. Carbon Fixation (Calvin Cycle):

    • The Calvin Cycle, which takes place in the stroma of the chloroplasts, involves the fixation of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).
    • ATP and NADPH produced in the light-dependent reactions are used to convert CO2 into glucose.
  6. Glucose Production:

    • Glucose, a sugar molecule, is synthesized during the Calvin Cycle.
    • Glucose can be used immediately for energy or stored in the form of starch for later use.

The overall chemical equation for photosynthesis is:

6 CO2+6 H2O+light energy→C6H12O6+6 O2

In words, carbon dioxide and water, in the presence of light energy, are converted into glucose and oxygen. Photosynthesis is crucial for the survival of plants and is the foundation of the food chain, as it provides energy for most ecosystems. Additionally, it plays a vital role in maintaining the balance of atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Seed germination conclision

To sum up, the process of seed germination is an essential part of the plant life cycle that initiates the growth and development of a plant. It entails the start of metabolic activities as well as the plant embryo’s separation from the seed coat. The rates at which seeds germinate are greatly influenced by variables including oxygen, temperature, and water. Comprehending these elements is crucial for cultivating crops and propagating plants successfully. All things considered, seed germination is a complex and dynamic biological process that is vital to the survival of plant species.

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