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1.  Sympatric species of Hibbertia (Dilleniaceae) vary in dormancy break and germination requirements: implications for classifying morphophysiological dormancy in Mediterranean biomes 
Annals of Botany  2012;109(6):1111-1123.
Background and Aims
Several ecologically important plant families in Mediterranean biomes have seeds with morphophysiological dormancy (MPD) but have been poorly studied. The aim of this study was to understand the seed ecology of these species by focusing on the prominent, yet intractably dormant Australian genus Hibbertia. It was hypothesized that the slow germination in species of this genus is caused by a requirement for embryo growth inside the seed before germination, and that initiation of embryo growth is reliant upon a complex sequence of environmental cues including seasonal fluctuations in temperature and moisture, and an interplay with light and smoke. Using the results, the classification of the MPD level in species of Hibbertia is considered.
Four species of Hibbertia in winter rainfall south-western Australia were selected. These species, whilst differing in geographic distributions, are variously sympatric, and all are important understorey components of plant communities. The following aspects related to dormancy break, embryo growth and germination were investigated: temperature and moisture requirements; effects of karrikinolide, gibberellic acid and aerosol smoke; and phenology.
Key Results
Following exposure to wet/dry cycles at low or high temperatures, embryo growth and germination occurred, albeit slowly in all species at low temperatures when moisture was unlimited, corresponding to winter in south-west Australia. Photo regime influenced germination only in H. racemosa. Aerosol smoke triggered substantial germination during the 1st germination season in H. huegelii and H. hypericoides.
Although the study species are con-generic, sympatric and produce seeds of identical morphology, they possessed different dormancy-break and germination requirements. The physiological component of MPD was non-deep in H. racemosa but varied in the other three species where more deeply dormant seeds required >1 summer to overcome dormancy and, thus, germination was spread over time. Embryos grew during winter, but future studies need to resolve the role of cold versus warm stratification by using constant temperature regimes. To include Mediterranean species with MPD, some modifications to the current seed-dormancy classification system may need consideration: (a) wet/dry conditions for warm stratification and (b) a relatively long period for warm stratification. These outcomes have important implications for improving experimental approaches to resolve the effective use of broadcast seed for ecological restoration.
PMCID: PMC3336950  PMID: 22362661
Framework species; germination phenology; Hibbertia; karrikinolide; Mediterranean biome; morphophysiological dormancy; restoration; seeds; smoke; underdeveloped embryos
2.  Seed germination and seedling development ecology in world-wide populations of a circumboreal Tertiary relict 
AoB Plants  2012;2012:pls007.
Ecological traits of the circumboreal plant Viburnum opulus were examined to improve understanding of the variation of populations occurring in the same biome but on different continents. Seedling development/emergence is shown to be highly similar but some degree of variation was present in other traits, among populations.
Background and aims
Temperate forests are disjunct in the Northern Hemisphere, having become fragmented from the earlier widespread (Tertiary) boreotropical forest. We asked ‘What are the contemporary patterns of population variation in ecological traits of a Tertiary relict in a macroecological context?’. This issue underpins our understanding of variation in populations occurring in the same biome but on different continents.
We examined characters associated with root and shoot emergences among populations of Viburnum opulus in temperate forests of Asia, North America and Europe. This species has complex seedling emergence extending over several years and requiring various temperature cues.
Principal results
Populations varied in germination responses and clustered into groups that were only partly related to varietal status. Whereas roots (at warm temperatures) and shoots (following a cold period) simultaneously emerged from seeds of all populations when simulated dispersal occurred in winter, they were delayed in some populations when dispersal occurred in summer.
Viburnum opulus populations, some separated by 10 300 km, showed high similarity in seedling development and in germination phenology, and we suggest that stabilizing selection has played a key role in maintaining similar dormancy mechanisms. Nevertheless, there was some degree of variation in other germination characters, suggesting local adaptation.
PMCID: PMC3328982  PMID: 22514787
3.  Understanding the germination of bulbils from an ecological perspective: a case study on Chinese yam (Dioscorea polystachya) 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(6):945-955.
Background and Aims
Bulbils serve as a means of vegetative reproduction and of dispersal for many plants; this latter aspect making them analogous to seeds. However, germination of bulbils may differ considerably from seeds due to dissimilar anatomical structures and perhaps environmental cue perception. The few laboratory studies done on bulbils suggest that their germination is similar to that of seeds in the same habitats and to vegetative buds of winter-dormant plants. The present study is the first to examine how bulbil germination is controlled in nature in relation to dispersal (before vs. after winter of the same cohort) and to ambient temperatures.
Under laboratory conditions, temperature and light requirements for root and shoot emergences from bulbils of Dioscorea polystachya collected in September, 2005, February, 2006 (produced in 2005) and July, 2006 were determined. Effects of cold stratification and dry storage for releasing dormancy were tested on September and July bulbils. The phenology of dormancy release and of root and shoot emergences and the persistence of bulbils in soil were followed over time under field conditions.
Key Results
Although a low percentage of bulbils collected in July or in September produced roots, but no shoots, in the laboratory and field, these roots died within approx. 1 month. Regardless of collection date, cold stratification markedly increased root and shoot emergences. Bulbils sown outdoors in October produced roots and shoots the following March and April, respectively. The soil bulbil bank is short lived.
Bulbils of D. polystachya are similar to seeds of many temperate plants being mostly dormant when dispersed in summer or autumn and overcoming dormancy with cold stratification during winter. Adaptively, bulbil germination primarily occurs in spring at the beginning of a favourable period for survivorship and growth.
PMCID: PMC2990661  PMID: 20880931
Aerial tubers; bulbils; Dioscorea polystachya; Dioscoreaceae; dormancy; germination ecology; soil bulbil bank
4.  Complex Combination of Seed Dormancy and Seedling Development Determine Emergence of Viburnum tinus (Caprifoliaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2004;95(2):323-330.
• Background and Aims The shrub Viburnum tinus is widely distributed in mattoral vegetation of the Mediterranean basin. The purpose of the present study was to classify the seed dormancy type and examine the requirements for embryo growth, root protrusion and shoot emergence.
• Methods Overwintered fruits were collected in western Spain in April 2001 and prepared in three ways: entire pericarp was removed, exocarp and mesocarp were removed or fruits were left intact. Fruits treated in these three ways were subjected to artificial annual temperature cycles or to constant temperature regimes for 1·5 years.
• Key Results Removal of exocarp and mesocarp was necessary for embryo growth and germination. High temperature favoured dormancy alleviation and embryo growth, intermediate to low temperatures favoured root protrusion, and intermediate temperature shoot emergence. There was substantial germination at constant temperature regimes, indicating an overlap between temperature intervals suitable for the different stages of embryo and seedling development. Functionally, V. tinus has the same root and shoot emergence pattern that is described for other Viburnum species considered to have epicotyl dormancy. However, the requirement for high and low temperatures for radicle protrusion and epicotyl emergence, respectively, was missing in V. tinus; these characters are the foundation for the epicotyl dormancy classification.
• Conclusions It is concluded that V. tinus does not have epicotyl dormancy. Instead, there is a combination of a weak morphophysiological dormancy and a slow germination process, where different temperatures during an annual cycle favour different development stages. The present study suggests that the first complete seedlings would emerge in the field 1·5 years after fruit maturation in October, i.e. seed dispersal during winter, embryo growth during the first summer, root protrusion and establishment during the second autumn and winter, and cotyledon emergence during the second spring.
PMCID: PMC4246832  PMID: 15546926
Adoxaceae; Caprifoliaceae; epicotyl dormancy; mattoral; morphophysiological dormancy; pericarp; persistent fruits; ruminant endosperm; seedling emergence; shrub; Viburnaceae; Viburnum tinus

Results 1-4 (4)