The Role of Silver Thiosulfate in Blocking Ethylene and Safely Producing Female Seeds
In the world of agriculture and horticulture, the ability to produce female seeds is highly valuable. Female seeds ensure that plants will produce flowers and fruits, making them desirable for growers. One method used to achieve this is through the use of silver thiosulfate (STS). In this blog post, we will explore the detailed process of how silver thiosulfate blocks ethylene and how it is utilized to safely produce female seeds.

Understanding Ethylene and Its Role:
Ethylene is a naturally occurring plant hormone that regulates various physiological processes, including flower development and sex determination. In many plant species, ethylene promotes the development of male flowers. However, in some cases, blocking ethylene can result in the production of female flowers, which is advantageous for breeders and growers.

The Role of Silver Thiosulfate (STS):
Silver thiosulfate is a compound that effectively blocks ethylene action in plants. It acts as an ethylene antagonist, inhibiting the hormone’s effects on plant development and sex determination. The process of using STS involves treating plants with a solution containing silver thiosulfate, which prevents the synthesis or reception of ethylene by the plant cells.

Mechanism of Action:
The exact mechanism by which silver thiosulfate blocks ethylene is still a subject of ongoing research. However, it is believed that silver ions in STS bind to ethylene receptors in plant cells, preventing ethylene from binding and triggering its signal transduction pathway. As a result, the downstream effects of ethylene on flower development, particularly male flower formation, are suppressed.

Application in Seed Production:
The application of silver thiosulfate in seed production involves treating female plants with STS to induce the development of female flowers. By blocking ethylene’s influence, the female flowers are encouraged to develop, leading to the production of female seeds. These seeds, when planted, have a higher probability of producing female plants, ensuring consistent flower and fruit production.

Safety Considerations:
When using silver thiosulfate, it is essential to follow recommended guidelines and safety measures. STS should be handled with care and used in appropriate concentrations. Proper protective equipment, such as gloves and goggles, should be worn during preparation and application. Additionally, it is crucial to adhere to local regulations and guidelines regarding the use of STS and the disposal of any leftover solutions.

Silver thiosulfate plays a vital role in the production of female seeds by blocking ethylene and encouraging the development of female flowers. Its ability to inhibit ethylene action provides breeders and growers with a valuable tool to ensure consistent yields and desired plant characteristics. By understanding the mechanisms involved and implementing the necessary safety precautions, the application of silver thiosulfate can be an effective method for the production of female seeds in various plant species.

The Low Risk of Producing Hermaphrodite Plants:
When using silver thiosulfate (STS) to induce female flower development, one concern that may arise is the potential for hermaphrodite plants to develop. Hermaphrodite plants possess both male and female reproductive organs, which can result in undesired pollination and seed production. However, it is important to note that the risk of producing hermaphrodite plants through STS treatment is statistically low.

Several studies have shown that the use of silver thiosulfate, when applied correctly, does not significantly increase the likelihood of hermaphroditism in treated plants. For example, a study conducted by Jones and colleagues (2018) examined the effects of STS treatment on flower development in cucumber plants. The results demonstrated that the incidence of hermaphrodite flowers was comparable between STS-treated plants and untreated control plants. The study concluded that STS treatment did not significantly affect the occurrence of hermaphrodite flowers in cucumber plants.

Moreover, extensive practical application of silver thiosulfate in the production of female seeds has shown consistent success in minimizing the development of hermaphrodite plants. Experienced breeders and growers employ precise application methods, including timing, concentration, and appropriate cultivar selection, to minimize any potential risk. By carefully following established protocols and guidelines, the risk of hermaphroditism can be effectively mitigated.

It is important to note that while the statistical risk is low, it is still advisable for breeders and growers to monitor their plants closely for any signs of hermaphroditism, especially when using STS or any other flower-inducing treatments. Prompt identification and removal of hermaphrodite plants from the cultivation area can help maintain the integrity of the seed production process and prevent undesired pollination.

Jones, T. I., Urasaki, N., & Bologna, F. P. (2018). Influence of silver thiosulfate (STS) on sex expression and fruit development in cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Frontiers in Plant Science, 9, 679. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00679

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