Background and Aims
Karrikinolide (KAR1) is a smoke-derived chemical that can trigger seeds to germinate. A potential application for KAR1 is for synchronizing the germination of weed seeds, thereby enhancing the efficiency of weed control efforts. Yet not all species germinate readily with KAR1, and it is not known whether seemingly non-responsive species can be induced to respond. Here a major agronomic weed family, the Brassicaceae, is used to test the hypothesis that a stimulatory response to KAR1 may be present in physiologically dormant seeds but may not be expressed under all circumstances.
Seeds of eight Brassicaceae weed species (Brassica tournefortii, Raphanus raphanistrum, Sisymbrium orientale, S. erysimoides, Rapistrum rugosum, Lepidium africanum, Heliophila pusilla and Carrichtera annua) were tested for their response to 1 µm KAR1 when freshly collected and following simulated and natural dormancy alleviation, which included wet–dry cycling, dry after-ripening, cold and warm stratification and a 2 year seed burial trial.
Seven of the eight Brassicaceae species tested were stimulated to germinate with KAR1 when the seeds were fresh, and the remaining species became responsive to KAR1 following wet–dry cycling and dry after-ripening. Light influenced the germination response of seeds to KAR1, with the majority of species germinating better in darkness. Germination with and without KAR1 fluctuated seasonally throughout the seed burial trial.
KAR1 responses are more complex than simply stating whether a species is responsive or non-responsive; light and temperature conditions, dormancy state and seed lot all influence the sensitivity of seeds to KAR1, and a response to KAR1 can be induced. Three response types for generalizing KAR1 responses are proposed, namely inherent, inducible and undetected. Given that responses to KAR1 were either inherent or inducible in all 15 seed lots included in this study, the Brassicaceae may be an ideal target for future application of KAR1 in weed management.