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Germination and hardseededness in desmanthus

Hopkinson, J. E. and English, B. H. (2004) Germination and hardseededness in desmanthus. Tropical Grasslands, 38 (1). pp. 1-16.


Publisher URL: http://www.tropicalgrasslands.asn.au/


The mechanisms and control of hardseededness in the 3 Australian cultivars of the genus Desmanthus were investigated in a series of experiments in which the effects of various seedsoftening treatments, particularly boiling water, were measured. Desmanthus seed is predominantly hard, only defective seeds being normally otherwise. As it has only very brief, early embryo dormancy, hardseededness is the only serious barrier to germination. Seed is most readily softened through rupture of the palisade at the lens (strophiole). The lens is of a typically mimosaceous type which is readily ruptured by immersion in boiling water or less readily by application of pressure to adjacent parts of the testa. Ruptures may consist only of separation of the palisade from underlying tissue, which alone does not confer permeability; mostly they also result in fractures to the palisade that then render seeds irreversibly permeable. The palisade becomes reflective as it separates, which allows the event to be witnessed at the moment of separation if suitable pressure is applied to the testa of an individual seed while it is viewed under magnification.

Brief (4–10 seconds) immersion of highquality seed in boiling water consistently softened a high proportion of seeds without causing serious damage. Extending the duration of immersion led to a progressive increase in the proportion of seed deaths. Neither previous boiling water treatment nor scarification damage to the testa materially affected results of treatment, but immature and small seeds behaved differently, being more vulnerable to damage than mature seed, and less likely to undergo lens rupture. Adaptation of boiling water treatment to farm-scale seed handling was simple and reliable.

Commercial treatment of seed by an alternative method suitable for greater bulks and consisting of passage through a rice-whitener was checked and found to be successful through a combination of gentle scarification and lens rupture, both attributable to the numerous minor impacts of the process. Percentage emergence of seedlings from soil in the greenhouse closely followed percentage laboratory germination, except when inferior seed grades were included in the comparison, when emergence was poor. Very little seed softened in soil. Already-permeable seed either germinated rapidly or died, while buried hard seed mostly remained hard and viable even more than a year after sowing.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Additional Information:© Tropical Grassland Society of Australia Inc.
Keywords:Grasslands; Desmanthus; hardseededness.
Subjects:Plant culture > Seeds. Seed technology
Live Archive:15 Jul 2004
Last Modified:10 Jul 2023 00:12

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