I thought about asking this on Gardening SE, but it seems to me as a technical subject which requires biological expertise to answer. This is not something that usually occurs for gardeners, so I don't think anyone there would have experience with it.

A bunch of seeds from a papaya fruit were put in the refrigerator. They were taken straight out of the fruit, along with pieces of pulp, sarcotesta and all.

The seeds ended up below zero. Probably only by a few degrees, at worst. They would have been in that state only for a few hours, at most. However, ice crystals had formed on them, and the pouch had hardened a little bit. I then thawed them. All that happened on May 19.

Well, I decided to plant them, as an experiment. And a few days ago, they started sprouting.

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I actually have more seeds from the same fruit, which have not been exposed to below zero temperatures.

Now my question is: If I let these plants become large trees, will they in any way be different from the normal seeds? (Assuming they get equal treatment.)

I thought the seeds would die, so I was surprised when they sprouted. But since this is a tropical plant, could the negative temperatures have damaged their DNA in any way? Or had some other detrimental effect on them? Or can I expect these plants to be exactly like the other group? (Except for individual variations unrelated to the freezing, of course.)


1 Answer 1


Seeds are generally made in order to stand dry/cold conditions. I don't see any reason to believe that the DNA got damaged during freezing (that could cause mutation and phenotypic changes). So, if they have germinated, the plants should not be any different from the controls.

  • $\begingroup$ How does the "made to withstand cold" part differ between seeds from tropical plants vs those native to colder climates? $\endgroup$
    – Fiksdal
    Jun 9, 2016 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ The strategy to stand extreme environments is roughly the same, the seeds tend to have very little water inside them. This is an advantage in many situations including low temperature so that ice crystals will not be able to form and destroy the cells. For sure there are differences in the strategies used by tropical plants and alpine plants, but overall they reach the same goal, to make a strong and long lasting seed. $\endgroup$
    – alec_djinn
    Jun 9, 2016 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ Have a look at this Wikipedia's article to get some more info about it. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seed_dormancy $\endgroup$
    – alec_djinn
    Jun 9, 2016 at 14:14

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