J Plant Ecol ›› 2018, Vol. 11 ›› Issue (4): 542-552.doi: 10.1093/jpe/rtx063

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Ecological role of physical dormancy in seeds of Oxytropis racemosa in a semiarid sandland with unpredictable rainfall

Dandan Hu1,2, Jerry M. Baskin3, Carol C. Baskin3,4, Xuejun Yang1 and Zhenying Huang1,*   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 20 Nanxincun, Xiangshan, Haidian District, Beijing 100093, P.R. China; 2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19(A) Yuquan Road, Shijingshan District, Beijing 100039, P.R. China; 3 Department of Biology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, USA; 4 Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546, USA
  • Received:2017-07-26 Accepted:2017-11-07 Online:2017-11-10 Published:2018-05-23
  • Contact: Huang, Zhenying E-mail:zhenying@ibcas.ac.cn

Abstract: Aims Seed dormancy and the soil seed bank are crucial to plant regeneration strategy, especially in semiarid ecosystems with unpredictable precipitation. The aim of this study was to investigate how seed dormancy is controlled by environmental factors and how it is correlated with the soil seed bank and regeneration of the perennial legume Oxytropis racemosa, a dominant perennial herb in Mu Us Sandland of semiarid China.
Methods Germination and imbibition experiments on fresh intact and scarified seeds of O. racemosa were used to identify physical dormancy (PY) in seeds of this species. Soil seed bank dynamics, timing of seedling emergence and the fate of buried seeds in the natural habitat were investigated.
Important findings PY was broken by mechanical scarification or wet heat/ice water cycles but not solely by dry heat or wet heat treatment. The soil seed bank exhibited seasonal changes in the number of seeds, which was highest in September and lowest in July. Seeds buried at different sand depths gradually lost dormancy; 20–42% of the seeds remained dormant after 20 months of burial. Dormancy break occurs gradually throughout the year. Our results indicate that O. racemosa exhibits hardcoatedness heterogeneity that spreads germination of a seed cohort between seasons and years in the semiarid environment, where the amount of precipitation during the growing season is highly variable.

Key words: Oxytropis racemosa, physical dormancy, seedling emergence, soil moisture, soil seed bank, soil temperature, unpredictable rainfall

[1] Robert L. Fitch, Erin J. Questad and Edward G. Bobich. Soil resource availability and its effect on the ecophysiology and establishment of Stipa pulchra [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2019, 12(4): 603-614.
[2] Fan Ding, Shuangyi Li, Xiao-Tao Lü, Feike A. Dijkstra, Sean Schaeffer, Tingting An, Jiubo Pei, Liangjie Sun and Jingkuan Wang. Opposite effects of nitrogen fertilization and plastic film mulching on crop N and P stoichiometry in a temperate agroecosystem [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2019, 12(4): 682-692.
[3] Antonio I. Arroyo, Yolanda Pueyo, Ramón Reiné, Maria Luz Giner, Concepción L. Alados. Effects of the allelopathic plant Artemisia herba-alba Asso on the soil seed bank of a semi-arid plant community [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2017, 10(6): 927-936.
[4] Madhav P. Thakur, Peter B. Reich, Cameron Wagg, Nicholas A. Fisichelli, Marcel Ciobanu, Sarah E. Hobbie, Roy L. Rich, Artur Stefanski, Nico Eisenhauer. Effects of soil warming history on the performances of congeneric temperate and boreal herbaceous plant species and their associations with soil biota [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2017, 10(4): 670-680.
[5] Lu Liu, Bi-Cheng Dong, Peter Alpert, Fei-Hai Yu. Effects of soil heterogeneity and moisture on interspecific competition between the introduced clonal plant Alternanthera philoxeroides and four clonal plants native to China [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2017, 10(3): 528-537.
[6] Nathalie Udo, Michèle Tarayre, Anne Atlan. Evolution of germination strategy in the invasive species Ulex europaeus [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2017, 10(2): 375-385.
[7] Chao Wang, Yinlei Ma, Stefan Trogisch, Yuanyuan Huang, Yan Geng, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Jin-Sheng He. Soil respiration is driven by fine root biomass along a forest chronosequence in subtropical China [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2017, 10(1): 36-46.
[8] Julia Clause, Sébastien Barot, Estelle Forey. Earthworms promote greater richness and abundance in the emergence of plant species across a grassland-forest ecotone [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2016, 9(6): 703-711.
[9] Rosario G. Gavilán, Daniel Sánchez-Mata, Mylena Gaudencio, Alba Gutiérrez-Girón, Beatriz Vilches. Impact of the non-indigenous shrub species Spartium junceum (Fabaceae) on native vegetation in central Spain [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2016, 9(2): 132-143.
[10] Ravi K. Chaturvedi, A. S. Raghubanshi, J. S. Singh. Relative effects of different leaf attributes on sapling growth in tropical dry forest [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2014, 7(6): 544-558.
[11] Zhang Zhou, Lai Jiang, Enzai Du, Huifeng Hu, Yide Li, Dexiang Chen, Jingyun Fang. Temperature and substrate availability regulate soil respiration in the tropical mountain rainforests, Hainan Island, China [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2013, 6(5): 325-334.
[12] Yinlei Ma, Yan Geng, Yuanyuan Huang, Yue Shi, Pascal A. Niklaus, Bernhard Schmid, Jin-Sheng He. Effect of clear-cutting silviculture on soil respiration in a subtropical forest of China [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2013, 6(5): 335-348.
[13] R. K. Chaturvedi, A. S. Raghubanshi, J. S. Singh. Growth of tree seedlings in a tropical dry forest in relation to soil moisture and leaf traits [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2013, 6(2): 158-170.
[14] Pengcheng Zhang, Mitsuru Hirota, Haihua Shen, Akinori Yamamoto, Shigeru Mariko, Yanhong Tang. Characterization of CO2 flux in three Kobresia meadows differing in dominant species [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2009, 2(4): 187-196.
[15] Margherita Gioria, Bruce Osborne. The impact of Gunnera tinctoria (Molina) Mirbel invasions on soil seed bank communities [J]. J Plant Ecol, 2009, 2(3): 153-167.
Full text



[1] Xinpeng Li Yiping Tong. Physiological and Molecular Basis of Inorganic Nitrogen Transport in Plants[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2007, 24(06): 714 -725 .
[2] . [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1994, 11(专辑): 20 .
[3] Hu Shi-yi. Isolation of the Anther Tapetal Membrane and Preparation Specimen of Tapetal Membrane for Light and Eletron Microscopy[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1993, 10(04): 54 -55 .
[4] FANG Mai-Chun WANG Xiao-Jing LI Hong-Qing. Regulation of Light on Plant Biological Clock[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2005, 22(02): 207 -214 .
[5] Ningguang Dong, Ying Gao, Wei Wang, Weilun Yin, Dong Pei. Immunogold Silver Localization of Indole-3-acetic Acid (IAA) During the Rhizogenesis of In Vitro Poplar[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2011, 46(3): 324 -330 .
[6] Jing Wang;Lei Jiang;Yan Wang;Shaoshan Li. Sensitivity of Plant Leaves at Different Developmental Stages to UV-induced DNA Damage[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2007, 24(02): 189 -193 .
[7] QUAN Hong SHI He-Ping LI Ling. Signal Transduction of ABA Inducing Stomatal Closure[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2003, 20(06): 664 -670 .
[8] Yujie Fu Rui Sun Shuangming Li Ran Zhang Yuangang Zu. Dynamic Space-time Variation of the Content of Paclitaxel in Renewable Parts of Taxus cuspidata[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2007, 24(04): 465 -469 .
[9] . [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2007, 24(02): 251 .
[10] Xu Li Lu Rong-zhao and Shi Ding-ji. Comparison of Determining Different Solvents Used in Extracting Chlorophyll a from Cyanohacteria (Blue-Greens)[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1988, 5(04): 246 -249 .