The Botanical Review

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 281–316

Weed Seed Survival during Anaerobic Digestion in Biogas Plants



Anaerobic digestion using animal manure and crop biomass is increasingly being used to produce biogas as a durable alternative to fossil fuel. The sludge, the leftover after processing, is returned to the field as a crop fertilizer. If weed seeds survive anaerobic digestion, the use of contaminated sludge poses a phytosanitary risk. The conditions that seeds are likely to encounter in biogas plants, and the effect of these, in particular temperature, on seed viability were reviewed. Knowledge on seed defence mechanisms and how these might protect seeds from inactivation in biogas reactors was summarized. Mechanisms of seed inactivation can be classified as thermal, biological and chemical. Weed species with hard seeds (physical dormant), high thermoresistance, a thick seed coat or adapted to endozoochory were identified as high-risk species. Specific seed traits could be used in future tests to circumvent extensive testing of seeds in biogas reactors.


Anaerobic digestion Biogas reactors High-risk species Physical dormancy Thermoresistance Weed seed survival 

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Group Crop Health, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesUniversity of RostockRostockGermany

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