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Seal, Charlotte

Photo of Charlotte Seal
Job title: 

Research Biochemist

Department: 
Seed Conservation
Section: 
Research
Joined Kew: 

2006

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • D.Phil (Plant biology), University of Sussex (2003)
  • BSc (Hons) Biology, University of Sussex (1999)
  • Member of the Society for Experimental Biology
Role: 

Biochemical characterisation of seeds to assess for functional traits and research into the effect of abiotic stress factors on seed germination.

To biochemically characterise seeds and assess for functional and nutritional traits, with particular emphasis on lipids, antioxidants (e.g. glutathione, tocochromanols) and the ability of seeds to tolerate abiotic stress factors such as salt. This work focuses on indigenous species which have the potential to be new crops and is supported by the development of biochemical methods using techniques such as supercritical fluid extraction and high-performance liquid chromatography. In addition, research is also conducted into the role of oxidative damage in seed ageing and storability, and the development of biochemical markers of seed viability.

Other research is to comprehend the kinetics of germination in changing environments associated with climate change and to develop threshold models as predictive tools, with interest in Cactaceae and halophytes. Research into Cactaceae germination is a major part of an international research collaboration with 11 institutes from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru and USA on Cactus Seed Biology (a database of this was published by Seal et al., in 2009). Other roles are the training and supervision of national and international visitors and students (over 25 people to date, ranging from volunteers to researchers at undergraduate, masters and post-doctoral level), regular reviewer of scientific articles for peer-review journals (e.g. Planta, Plant and Soil, Applied Vegetation Science, The Open Plant Science Journal, Tree Physiology) and editorial duties for sectional and departmental publications.

Grants: COST Action FA0901 ‘Putting halophytes to work – from genes to ecosystems’, 2009-2013. Member of the UK team and deputy UK Management Committee member. 

Main research interests:

  • plant stress physiology
  • halophytes
  • oxidative stress and antioxidants
  • seed ageing and storability
  • germination threshold models
  • Cactaceae
  • indigenous species
  • oilseeds
Selected publications: 

Kranner, I., & Seal, C.E. (2013). Salt stress, signalling and redox control in seeds. Functional Plant Biology 40: 848-859. Available online

Zagorchev, L., Seal, C.E., Kranner, I., & Odjakova, M. (2012). Redox state of low-molecular-weight thiols and disulphides during somatic embryogenesis of salt-treated suspension cultures of Dactylis glomerata L. Free Radical Research 46: 656-664. Available online

Chen, H., Pritchard, H.W., Seal, C.E., Nadarajan, J., Li, W., Yang, S., & Kranner, I. (2012). Post desiccation germination of mature seeds of tea (Camellia sinensis L.) can be enhanced by pro-oxidant treatment, but partial desiccation tolerance does not ensure survival at− 20° C. Plant Science 184: 36-44. Available online

Flores, J., Jurado, E., Chapa-Vargas, L., Ceroni-Stuva, A., Dávila-Aranda, P., Galíndez, G., Gurvich, D., Leon-Lobos, P., Ordonez, C., Ortega-Baes, P., Ramirez-Bullon, N., Sandoval, A., Seal, C.E., Ulian, T., & Pritchard, H.W. (2011). Seeds photoblastism and its relationship with some plant traits in 136 cacti taxa. Environmental and Experimental Botany 71: 79-88. Available online

Kranner, I., Minibayeva, F.V., Beckett, R.P., & Seal, C.E. (2010). What is stress? Concepts, definitions and applications in seed science. New Phytologist 188: 655-673. Available online