Desiccation tolerance and sensitivity of selected tropical montane species in Sri Lanka

Yasoja S. Athugala, K. M.G. Gehan Jayasuriya, A. M.T.A. Gunaratne, Carol C. Baskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Although the level of seed desiccation sensitivity (LSDS) may have an impact on plant species conservation, information is available for <10% of tropical angiosperms. A study was conducted to assess the LSDS of 28 tropical montane species in Sri Lanka. Seeds were extracted from freshly collected fruits. Initial weight was recorded, and thousand seed weight (TSW) was calculated. Seed moisture content (MC) was determined. LSDS was determined using seed desiccation experiments and predicted using the TSW-MC criterion. Seed storage behaviour was predicted using LSDS and storage data and using a model based on phylogenetic affiliation. The relationship between LSDS and seed dormancy, life form and forest strata was evaluated. Fresh seeds of only 12 species germinated to >80%. Although seeds of the other species had >80% viability, only 0-70% germinated due to dormancy. Seeds of five species had MC <15%, indicating desiccation tolerance (DT). Seeds of 12 species lost viability after desiccation, indicating desiccation sensitivity (DS). Seeds of Ardisia missionis, Psychotria gartneri and Psychotria nigra remained viable after desiccation, showing DT. Seeds of 17 species were DS and those of 11 species DT. The TSW of four species was >500 g. Thus, seeds of other species were predicted to be DT by the TSW-MC criterion. A relationship was identified between LSDS and the forest strata of the species. More canopy species produced DS than DT seeds. Since seeds of most of the studied species were DS, these species may be threatened due to prolonged droughts predicted for the region due to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-104
Number of pages7
JournalSeed Science Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support. The National Foundation of Sri Lanka (Grant No. NRC 13-91) provided funding for this research.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • canopy species
  • desiccation-sensitive seeds
  • desiccation-tolerant seeds
  • thousand seed weight
  • understory species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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