In oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.), sulphur (S) limitation leads to a reduction of seed yield and nutritional quality, but also to a reduction of seed viability and vigour. S metabolism is known to be involved in the control of germination sensu stricto and seedling establishment. Nevertheless, how the germination and the first steps of plant growth are impacted in seeds produced by plants subjected to various sulphate limitations remains largely unknown. Therefore, this study aimed at determining the impact of various S-limited conditions applied to the mother plants on the germination indexes and the rate of viable seedlings in a spring oilseed rape cultivar (cv. Yudal). Using a 34S-sulphate pulse method, the sulphate uptake capacity during the seedling development was also investigated. The rate of viable seedlings was significantly reduced for seeds produced under the strongest S-limited conditions. This is related to a reduction of germination vigour and to perturbations of post-germinative events. Compared to green seedlings obtained from seeds produced by well-S-supplied plants, the viable seedlings coming from seeds harvested on plants subjected to severe S-limitation treatment showed nonetheless a higher dry biomass and were able to enhance the sulphate uptake by roots and the S translocation to shoots.
Keywords: 34S labelling; S metabolism; oilseed rape; seed viability; sulphate translocation; sulphate uptake.