Skip to main content

You are here

Facebook icon
Pinterest icon
Twitter icon

Colville, Louise

Job title: 


Seed Conservation
Joined Kew: 


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, University of Wales, Bangor, 2002
  • PhD Biological Sciences, University of Exeter, 2006
  • Member of The Biochemical Society

Biochemical characterisation of seed ageing, desiccation and viability loss to identify diagnostic markers for seed viability

Research focuses on the mechanisms of seed deterioration using biochemical approaches such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and 2D-electrophoresis to monitor the intracellular changes that take place during ageing of orthodox seeds and desiccation of recalcitrant seeds leading to seed death. A better understanding of the process of seed ageing and viability loss will enable identification of diagnostic markers of seed viability, which may provide a more convenient means of assessing seed viability than conventional germination testing. Non-invasive techniques for determining seed viability using GC-MS to monitor volatile compounds released by seeds are being developed.

Another area of interest is chemotaxonomy, and current projects are profiling the tissue-specific distribution of antioxidants, which are important for human nutrition and also as key molecules involved in seed storability, across the plant kingdom. Other activities include supervising and training work experience, internship and visiting PhD students (>18 supervised since 2007)  and reviewing manuscripts for scientific journals including Plant Growth Regulation, Annals of Botany and Planta.

Keynote speaker: Seed Persistence Workshop, Perth, Australia 2011.

Main research interests: Oxidative stress and antioxidants; seed ageing and longevity; desiccation tolerance; chemotaxonomy.

Selected publications: 

Long, R., Gorecki, M., Renton, M., Scott, J., Colville, L., Goggin, D., Commander, L., Westcott, D., Cherry, H., Finch-Savage, W. (2014) The ecophysiology of seed persistence: A mechanistic view of the journey to germination or demise. In press. Biological Reviews Available online

Chen, H., Osuna, D., Colville, L., Lorenzo, O., Graeber, K., Kuster, H., Leubner-Metzger, G., Kranner, I. (2013) Transcriptome-wide mapping of pea seed ageing reveals a pivotal role for genes related to oxidative stress and programmed cell death. PLOS ONE 8 (10): e7847 Available online

Paulsen, T.R., Colville, L., Kranner, I., Daws, M.I., Högstedt, G., Vandvik, V., Thompson, K. (2013) Physical dormancy in seeds: a game of hide and seek? New Phytologist 198: 496-503 Available online

Colville, L., Bradley, E.L., Lloyd, A.S., Pritchard, H.W., Castle, L., Kranner, I. (2012) Volatile fingerprints of seeds of four species indicate the involvement of alcoholic fermentation, lipid peroxidation, and Maillard reactions in seed deterioration during ageing and desiccation stress. Journal of Experimental Botany 63: 6519-6530 Available online

Kranner, I., Colville, L. (2011) Metals and seeds: Biochemical and molecular implications and their significance for seed germination. Environmental and Experimental Botany 72: 93-105