Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Susana Goggi


Fall frost damage is a major threat to maize (Zea mays L.) seed production in the central United States. Frost events prior to harvest can cause various physical, mechanical, biochemical, and physiological changes to immature seed corn. These changes can lead to decreased germination and vigor. Early detection of frost damage could reduce the financial loss caused by poor emergence when these seed lots are planted. The central hypotheses of this dissertation are that the severity of a frost event can be quantified shortly after seed has been harvested and dried, and that the magnitude of the damage is associated with seed development and genetic background of the seed. This information can be used to predict field emergence of frosted seed lots. Many different aspects of frost damage have been explored in this project, which provides several methods for identifying frost damage in maize seed. This project advances our understanding of seed physiology as related to frost damage and changes in physiology during seed maturation. Chapter 2 is a practical application of the tetrazolium test for identifying frost damage in seed corn and relating these results to vigor. Chapter 3 discusses the influence of female parent and moisture content at harvest in frost tolerance or injury. Chapter 3 also provides a detailed analysis of seed quality tests and their usefulness in predicting field emergence of frost damaged seed. Chapter 4 establishes the use of RNA extraction and qRT-PCR as a valid method for evaluating gene expression in dry maize seed.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Mindy L. DeVrie



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

112 pages