Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) promotes seed germination of cereal plants and ascorbic acid which acts as antioxidant suppresses the germination of wheat seeds, but the role of H2O2 scavenging on germination during seed maturation has not been demonstrated. We investigated relationship of germination, ascorbate, H2O2 scavenging enzymes and sensitivity to ascorbic acid (AsA) maturing seeds of two typical wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars, cvs. Shirogane-Komugi and Norin61. Shirogane-Komugi had marked high germination ability than Norin61 during seed maturation. Although the H2O2 content had no difference in the two cultivars, sensitivity to AsA of Norin61 seeds was higher than that of Shirogane-Komugi seeds during seed maturation. The sensitivity to AsA closely correlated with germination characteristic in the two cultivars. Especially, at 28 days after pollination (DAP), sensitivity to AsA in Norin61 seeds was remarkably high. At that stage, no significant differences were observed in endogenous AsA level, ascorbate peroxidase (APX, EC 18.104.22.168) and dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR, EC 22.214.171.124) activities in the two cultivars. However, catalase (CAT, EC 126.96.36.199) activity and CAT mRNA in Norin61 were remarkably higher than in Shirogane-Komugi. Sensitivity to AsA at 35 and 42 DAPs kept high levels in Norin61, and endogenous AsA and CAT activity in the seeds were significantly higher than in Shirogane-Komugi. These results revealed a direct correlation between germination and antioxidant sensitivity during the developmental stages of wheat seeds.
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