Role of indehiscent pericarp in formation of soil seed bank in five cold desert Brassicaceae species

Juan J. Lu, Dun Y. Tan, Carol C. Baskin, Jerry M. Baskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The dispersal and germination unit of some Brassicaceae species is the fruit, and we hypothesized that it could affect germination phenology and promote formation of a soil seed bank. We determined the effects of the indehiscent pericarp on germination and longevity of buried seeds of five Brassicaceae species native to cold deserts of central Asia. Germination phenology (seedling emergence) was monitored for intact dispersal units and isolated seeds of Chorispora sibirica, Goldbachia laevigata, Spirorrhynchus sabulosus, Tauscheria lasiocarpa (annuals), and Sterigmostemum fuhaiense (perennial) at natural temperatures in watered and non-watered (natural precipitation) soil. Intact dispersal units and isolated seeds were buried under natural conditions and exhumed at regular intervals for 35 months to monitor germination, viability and moisture content of isolated seeds, seeds in dispersal units, and seeds removed from dispersal units after burial. Isolated seeds of Goldbachia, Spirorrhynchus, and Tauscheria germinated only the first autumn and those of Chorispora and Sterigmostemum the first autumn and first spring, with higher germination percentages in all species in watered than in non-watered soil. A high percentage of seeds in buried dispersal units of Chorispora, Goldbachia, and Sterigmostemum was viable after 35 months, and seeds exhibited a 6-month dormancy cycle, being non-dormant only in autumn and spring. Seeds in buried dispersal units of Spirorrhynchus and Tauscheria germinated when exhumed in the first spring, but all non-germinated seeds were dead after 1 year. Thus, the presence of the pericarp allows Chorispora, Goldbachia, and Sterigmostemum to form a persistent seed bank but not Spirorrhynchus and Tauscheria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1200
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41361011, 31660122), the National ‘‘Ten Thousand Talents Program’’ Backup Candidate Training Project (QN2016JQ0376) and the Major National Scientific Research Program of China (2014CB954202). We thank the National Meteorological Information Center, China Meteorological Administration, for providing the temperature data.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


  • Germination phenology
  • Persistent seed bank
  • Seed dormancy
  • Seed germination
  • Seed longevity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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