Seed germination thermal niche differs among nine populations of an annual plant: A modeling approach

Keyvan Maleki, Carol C. Baskin, Jerry M. Baskin, Mohadeseh Kiani, Iraj Alahdadi, Elias Soltani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Germination timing is an important determinant of survival and niche breadth of plants. The annual plant Nigella sativa occurs in diverse environments along a steep temperature gradient and thus is a suitable model for the study of germination behavior in response to temperature. We used a modeling approach to compare the germination thermal niche of seeds of nine populations of N. sativa produced in a common garden. Germination time courses were obtained by a newly developed process-based model, and thermal niche was visualized by plotting germination breadth as a function of after-ripening time. Seeds were sampled five times: immature (2 weeks before maturity), mature, and afterripened for 1, 2, and 5 months. Immature and mature seeds had a greater depth of dormancy than afterripened seeds, as estimated by lower values of high-limit temperatures (Th). Afterripening increased germination percentage, synchrony, and thermal niche breadth of all nine populations. The highest asynchrony was for immature and mature seeds, and afterripening enhanced synchrony. Based on the new graphical method, N. sativa has Type 1 nondeep physiological dormancy, and thus, the germination niche is narrow at seed maturity, leading to a delayed germination strategy that is highly dependent on thermal time accumulated during afterripening. Our findings show that there is considerable variation in the germination thermal niche among populations. Temperature regimes in the natural habitats of N. sativa have played a significant role in shaping variation in thermal niche breadth for seed germination of this annual species. The models used in our study precisely predict germination behavior and thermal niche under different environmental conditions. The germination synchrony model also can estimate germination pattern and degree of dormancy during the year, suggesting a useful method for quantification of germination strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9240
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • delayed germination
  • germination synchrony
  • germination timing
  • physiological dormancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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