Journal Article

Parental environment changes the dormancy state and karrikinolide response of <i>Brassica tournefortii</i> seeds

M. J. Gorecki, R. L. Long, G. R. Flematti and J. C. Stevens

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 109, issue 7, pages 1369-1378
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online April 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Parental environment changes the dormancy state and karrikinolide response of Brassica tournefortii seeds

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

The smoke-derived chemical karrikinolide (KAR1) shows potential as a tool to synchronize the germination of seeds for weed management and restoration. To assess its feasibility we need to understand why seeds from different populations of a species exhibit distinct responses to KAR1. Environmental conditions during seed development, known as the parental environment, influence seed dormancy so we predicted that parental environment would also drive the KAR1-responses of seeds. Specifically, we hypothesized that (a) a common environment will unify the KAR1-responses of different populations, (b) a single population grown under different environmental conditions will exhibit different KAR1-responses, and (c) drought stress, as a particular feature of the parental environment, will make seeds less dormant and more responsive to KAR1.


Seeds of the weed Brassica tournefortii were collected from four locations in Western Australia and were sown in common gardens at two field sites, to test whether their KAR1-responses could be unified by a common environment. To test the effects of drought on KAR1-response, plants were grown in a glasshouse and subjected to water stress. For each trial, the germination responses of the next generation of seeds were assessed.

Key Results

The KAR1-responses of seeds differed among populations, but this variation was reduced when seeds developed in a common environment. The KAR1-responses of each population changed when seeds developed in different environments. Different parental environments affected germination responses of the populations differently, showing that parental environment interacts with genetics to determine KAR1-responses. Seeds from droughted plants were 5 % more responsive to KAR1 and 5 % less dormant than seeds from well-watered plants, but KAR1-responses and dormancy state were not intrinsically linked in all experiments.


The parental environment in which seeds develop is one of the key drivers of the KAR1-responses of seeds.

Keywords: Brassica tournefortii; butenolide; drought stress; germination; karrikinolide; maternal environment; parental environment; phenotypic plasticity; physiological dormancy; seed development; seed dormancy; weed seed bank

Journal Article.  6408 words.  Illustrated.

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

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