Effects of germination time on seed morph ratio in a seed-dimorphic species and possible ecological significance

Fan Yang, Jerry M. Baskin, Carol C. Baskin, Xuejun Yang, Dechang Cao, Zhenying Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

• Background and Aims: Diaspores of heteromorphic species may germinate at different times due to distinct dormancy-breaking and germination requirements, and this difference can influence life history traits. The primary aim of this study was to determine the effect of germination time of the two seed morphs of Suaeda corniculata subsp. mongolica on life history traits of the offspring. • Methods: Germinated brown and black seeds were sown on the 20th of each month from April to September in a simulated but near-natural habitat of the species. Phenological and vegetative traits of the maternal plants, and number, size and germination percentage of the offspring were determined. • Key Results: Germinated seeds sown late in the year produced smaller plants that had a higher proportion of nondormant brown than dormant black seeds, and these brown seeds were larger than those produced by germinated seeds sown early in the year. The length of the seedling stage for brown seeds was shorter than that for black seeds, and the root/shoot ratio and reproductive allocation of plants from brown seeds were more variable than they were for plants from black seeds. Late-germinating brown seeds produced larger plants than late-germinating black seeds. • Conclusions: Altering the proportion of the two seed types in response to germination timing can help alleviate the adverse effects of delayed germination. The flexible strategy of a species, such as S. Corniculata, that produces different proportions of dimorphic seeds in response to variation in germination timing may favour the maintenance and regeneration of the population in its unpredictable environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-145
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Botany
Volume115
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Germination timing
  • Life history traits
  • Maternal environmental effect
  • Phenology
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Seed germination
  • Seed heteromorphism
  • Suaeda corniculata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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