Journal Article

Physical Dormancy in Seeds of the Holoparasitic Angiosperm <i>Cuscuta australis</i> (Convolvulaceae, Cuscuteae): Dormancy-breaking Requirements, Anatomy of the Water Gap and Sensitivity Cycling

K. M. G. Gehan Jayasuriya, Jerry M. Baskin, Robert L. Geneve, Carol C. Baskin and Ching-Te Chien

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 1, pages 39-48
Published in print July 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcn064
Physical Dormancy in Seeds of the Holoparasitic Angiosperm Cuscuta australis (Convolvulaceae, Cuscuteae): Dormancy-breaking Requirements, Anatomy of the Water Gap and Sensitivity Cycling

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Background and Aims

Dormancy in seeds of Cuscuta (Convolvulaceae, tribe Cuscuteae) is due to a water-impermeable seed coat (physical dormancy). In nondormant seeds of several species of this family, bulges adjacent to the micropyle have been identified as the initial route of water entry into seeds (water gap). However, there are claims that water enters seeds of Cuscuta spp. via the entire seed coat. Although several studies have been done on seed coat anatomy of Cuscuta, none has identified and/or characterized the morphology/anatomy of a water gap. Thus, the primary aim of this research was to identify and describe the morphology and anatomy of the water gap in seeds of Cuscuta australis. It was also determined if sensitivity cycling to dormancy-breaking treatments occurs in seeds of this species.

Methods

Light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, tissue-sectioning and dye-tracking and blocking experiments were used to investigate the morphology and anatomy of the water gap. Treatments simulating natural conditions were used to break seed dormancy. Storage of seeds at different temperatures was tested for their effect on sensitivity to dormancy-breaking treatment.

Key Results

Dormancy-breaking treatments caused the tightly closed hilar fissure to open. Staining was observed in cells below the hilum area but not in those below the seed coat away from the hilum. Sensitivity to dormancy-breaking treatment was induced by storing seeds dry and reduced by storing them wet.

Conclusions

Whereas bulges adjacent to the micropyle act as the water gap in other species of Convolvulaceae with physical dormancy, the hilar fissure serves this function in Cuscuta. Cuscuta australis can cycle between insensitivity ↔ sensitivity to dormancy-breaking treatments.

Keywords: Convolvulaceae; Cuscuta; hilar fissure; palisade layer; physical dormancy; seed coat anatomy; seed dormancy; seed germination; sensitivity cycling; water gap

Journal Article.  6535 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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