, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 33-46

Seed dormancy/germination traits of seven Persicaria species and their implication in soil seed-bank strategy

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In order to predict species-specific potential to form persistent soil seed-banks and to characterize the dynamics of their seed-banks, the seed dormancy/germination traits of seven Persicaria (Polygonum s.lat.) species sharing lakeshore habitats in central Japan were examined. Strict light requirements for seed germination were not observed in any of the species examined. Although all species required moist chilling (0–6 weeks) to break seed dormancy and were sensitive to temperature fluctuation, the degree of both responses varied between species. Seed germination of Persicaria hydropiper (L.) Spach, Persicaria lapathifolia (L.) S.F. Gray, and Persicaria longiseta (De Bruyn) Kitag. was more accelerated by temperature fluctuation and required shorter chilling periods compared with Persicaria japonica (Meisn.) H. Gross, Persicaria maackiana (Regel) Nakai, Persicaria thunbergii (Sieb. et Zucc.) H. Gross, and Persicaria sieboldi (Maisn.) Onki. Secondary dormancy was induced in all species at higher temperatures (24 and 30°C). A persistent seed-bank strategy suggested by the dormancy/germination traits of the studied species was also demonstrated by seedling emergence from surface soils collected from the natural habitat immediately before seed dispersal, as well as by viable seed persistence for 13 months in the field in a seed burial experiment. In the natural habitat, the species with longer chilling requirements occurred in various microhabitats, including the interior of moist tall grasslands, whereas the species having higher sensitivity to temperature fluctuation were most frequently found in sparsely vegetated microhabitats.