Factors influencing seed dormancy and germination in sand, and seedling survival under desiccation, of Psammochloa villosa (Poaceae), inhabiting the moving sand dunes of Ordos, China

  • Huang Z
  • Dong M
  • Gutterman Y
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Psammochloa villosa (Trin.) Bor. (Poaceae), is distributed primarily in moving sand dunes of the Ordos Plateau, China. Freshly harvested caryopses (seeds) are in non-deep physiological dormancy (non-deep PD). Germination is slow and low and only over a narrow temperature range. A treatment of four weeks cold stratification at 3 to 5degreesC in darkness was required to break non-deep PD, allowing germination to reach high percentages at higher temperatures and without light requirement. Rate and percentages of germination were increased by scarifying the caryopsis coat and by artificial removal of different proportions of the endosperm. However, seedling dry weight and increases in root and shoot lengths, were significantly influenced by the proportion of the endosperm that remained on the caryopses. Higher percentages of seedling emergence were obtained from the shallowly buried caryopses, ranging from 0.5-2.0 cm, and the depth of the caryopses in the sand affected the time of germination. The deeper the caryopses were buried, the more that remained ungerminated and in enforced dormancy. The caryopses germinated when the upper sand layer was removed and buried caryopses were at a suitable sand depth for germination, or when the sand was aerated. In natural habitats, germinated seedlings may be wholly exposed to the air by sand erosion and thus be exposed to drought stress. However, young seedlings have the ability to tolerate desiccation and to recover after rehydration. Root length at the 'point of no return' is 4 mm.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Germination at sand depths
  • Non-deep physiological dormancy
  • Rehydration
  • Removal of endosperm
  • Scarification
  • Seedling desiccation tolerance

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  • Zhenying Huang

  • Ming Dong

  • Yitzchak Gutterman

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