ethanol seed sterilization

This seed sterilization technique is good for quickly sterilizing seed batches of Arabidopsis thaliana before putting them in a petri dish to grow.  Keep in mind that although sterilization is best practice, the quality of the actual seeds play a big role in susceptibility to contamination.

Purpose: to reduce contamination during experiments

Materials needed: 70% ethanol, microcentrifuge tubes, pipettes, filter paper


  1. If your Arabidopsis thaliana seeds aren’t already in a microcentrifuge tube, carefully funnel your seeds into one.  
  2. If you’re using multiple types of Arabidopsis (mutants or different ecotypes), take care to label the tubes. 
  3. Use your pipette to carefully dispense a moderate amount of 70% diluted ethanol onto the seeds.  
  4. Let the seeds sit in ethanol for about 2 minutes.  Feel free to give the tube a shake.  Then let the seeds settle to the bottom of the tube. 
  5. Use the pipette to remove as much ethanol as you can, but not the seeds.  
  6. Add a second wash of ethanol.  
  7. Remove the seeds by sucking up the ethanol and seed solution.  
  8. Dispense the seeds and ethanol onto filter paper so they are ready to sow.