Imbibition in plant seeds

Jean-Francois Louf, Yi Zheng, Aradhana Kumar, Tomas Bohr, Carsten Gundlach, Jesper Harholt, Henning Friis Poulsen, Kaare Hartvig Jensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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We describe imbibition in real and artificial plant seeds, using a combination of experiments and theory. In both systems, our experiments demonstrate that liquid permeates the substrate at a rate which decreases gradually over time. Tomographic imaging of soy seeds is used to confirmed this by observation of the permeating liquid using an iodine stain. To rationalize the experimental data, we propose a model based on capillary action which predicts the temporal evolution of the radius of the wet front and the seed mass. The depth of the wetting front initially evolves as t1/2 in accord with the Lucas-Washburn law. At later times, when the sphere is almost completely filled, the front radius scales as (1 - t/tmax)1/2 where tmax is the time required to complete imbibition. The data obtained on both natural and artificial seeds collapse onto a single curve that agrees well with our model, suggesting that capillary phenomena contribute to moisture uptake in soy seeds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number042403
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number4
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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