The term ‘recalcitrance’, defined as obstinate disobedience, refers to seeds that undergo no maturation drying as the final phase of development, tolerate very little post-shedding desiccation and are often chilling-sensitive. Such seeds are unstorable by any of the methods used for air-dry orthodox seeds. Since these terms were introduced by Roberts in 1973, much of the widely-disseminated literature has been systematically collated to afford an overview of recalcitrant seeds, particularly those of crop species (Chin and Roberts, 1980). Two major unresolved issues emerged from that overview: there was no explanation of the basis of recalcitrant seed behaviour, and no successful storage regimes had been established. The present contribution deals with progress that has been made towards an understanding of the responses of post-harvest, recalcitrant seeds in terms of their cell biology.
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