it be great to have super powers? Like superheroes or super villains
do. You know…so you can survive anything. What about this…let’s
say…in times where you have no food, you can make your digestion
system change so that your body could utilize the things that are
available? So, maybe, when all there is, is grass to eat, you could
change your digestive system to digest grass like a cow. Or…Or what
if during a violent storm you could sit down, and force your skin to
produce a gooey substance around your body that would protect you
from the weather. What about changing into a spore when there’s no
food or water…that would be cool.
Plant Disease Super Villains?
Tiny organisms that can cause diseases in plants are not super
villains, but some of them have the characteristics described above.
Most bacteria can alter their digestion system in order to utilize
the food or carbon source that is available. It takes a little time
(lag phase of growth), but once the bacteria adjusts, it will grow
normally on the new carbon source. Many bacteria attach to surfaces
and exude certain materials that make it more difficult to kill
them, and fungi can just shut everything down and turn into a spore,
only to wake up again when the conditions are friendlier. And
viruses can be the most difficult to kill, because they exist as
floating pieces of DNA surrounded by a protein coat, not really
alive until they find a host and start reproducing. The worst thing
about all of this is that some of these super villain organisms can
live on the seed and may cause plant diseases if they are not killed
before planting, so they must be eliminated.
You Can’t Live Here Any More
Seed companies routinely disinfect and test seed to make sure there
are no disease causing microorganisms on the seed they sell. Most
companies routinely soak their most valuable seed in diluted
chlorine bleach (the kind used to wash clothes), or diluted chlorine
most commonly used to chlorinate your swimming pool. This process
kills all surface bacteria and fungi on the seed. Some companies use
a diluted acid soak, or sometimes high heat treatments will kill
bacteria that different soaks will not. Virus’s are more difficult
to kill, and seeds are often destroyed if any disease causing virus
is detected on the seed, but there are a couple of ways to destroy a
virus located on a seed. One is to soak the seed for several hours
in a cleaning agent commonly found in hardware stores, or sometimes
seed companies will basically bake the seed at very high and dry
temperatures in order to destroy any virus on seed. As you can
imagine, these treatments must be done with care and caution,
following a specific protocol that enables seed companies to kill
the bacteria, fungi, or virus without killing the seed.
That’s it for now. See you next time, when we talk about “Seed
Priming – How Companies do it”.
Talk to you soon