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18.11.2020

Rapid test for the germination capacity of seeds

A new method provides seed banks and breeders with results after only hours, without having to waste the tested seed.

Keimfähigkeitstest
The rapid test to check the germination capacity shows the result as a color reaction.
Copyright: 
David Ebener, Neue OZ

For seed banks, seed breeders, but also for farmers, it is essential to know whether certain seeds can still germinate. Millions of germination tests are therefore carried out every year. Depending on the method used, the seeds are used, and the results can take weeks. A spin-off of the University of Osnabrück has now presented a new test procedure that provides a result after only four hours without damaging the seed.

Test detects ageing substances

"The easy-to-use and reliable test is performed by adding a test fluid to individual seeds. A colour change then indicates the germination capacity," explains plant scientist Klaus Mummenhoff. A blue test liquid indicates fully vital and germinable seeds, a pink-coloured one already aged and only partially germinable, while a colourless solution indicates severely damaged to dead seeds. The test liquid reacts to organic substances released by the seeds as a result of the ageing process.

Patent pending

"This test gives us a unique selling point," says Mummenhoff happily. The university has therefore applied for a patent for the method. To ensure that the rapid test can be used conveniently in practice in the future, the start-up company seedalive wants to enable its customers to carry out the tests themselves on site. Retailers or farmers will then receive a chemical package with appropriate instructions and an accompanying smartphone app for evaluating the results. "In cooperation with the Osnabrück-based start-up seedforward, we want to bring our test to market maturity for rapeseed and corn next year," Mummenhoff explains the further planning.

Start-up Prize and EXIST Scholarship

In any case, the research team attracts attention. First, the start-up received the "Innovate German Agri Start-up Award" from the Osnabrück-based initiative "Innovate!”. In addition to the associated 3,000 euros in prize money, the company also receives support from an EXIST scholarship from the Federal Ministry of Economics. Furthermore, it is advised by mentors from the University of Osnabrück and the Osnabrück Seedhouse, an incubator for young companies.

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