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The seeds are dormant when dry. They become alive when moisture touches them. They start breathing and germinating. The cells start to respire. If they are closed in a container or totally submerged in water, then they do not get oxygen. They die.

A simple experiment:

Take a test tube and put some lime water in it. Then put some wool between water level and the mouth. Then put some dry seeds on top of wool.  Take another test tube with some lime water and put some wool above water level, like before.  Now put some wet germinating sprouted seeds on top of the wool. Now close the test tubes tightly. There must be air available in both test tubes. 

After about a week you will find that the lime water turns white in the test tube with sprouts. Lime water turns white when CO2 is dissolved in lime water.  It means that carbon dioxide gas was produced by the sprouts. Carbon dioxide is produced by breathing of sprouts which take oxygen and breath out CO2.

You have to wet the sprouts and ensure that they remain wet for a week. They should not drown in lime water.

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