J Plant Ecol ›› 2018, Vol. 11 ›› Issue (2): 308-316.

• Research Articles •

### Discovering the type of seed dormancy and temperature requirements for seed germination of Gentiana lutea L. subsp. lutea (Gentianaceae)

Alba Cuena-Lombraña1,2, Marco Porceddu1,2,*, Caterina Angela Dettori1 and Gianluigi Bacchetta1,2

1. 1 Centro Conservazione Biodiversità, Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell'Ambiente, Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Viale S. Ignazio da Laconi, 11–13, Cagliari 09123, Italy; 2 Banca del Germoplasma della Sardegna (BG-SAR), Hortus Botanicus Karalitanus (HBK), Università degli Studi di Cagliari. Viale Sant'Ignazio da Laconi, 9–11, Cagliari 09123, Italy
• Received:2016-05-18 Accepted:2017-01-13 Published:2018-02-06
• Contact: Porceddu, Marco

Abstract: Aims There are a number of mechanisms that regulate germination; among these, seed dormancy, one of the most important, is an adaptative mechanism in plants to promote survival by dispersing germination in space and time until environmental conditions are favourable for germination. The main goals of this study were to determine the temperature requirements for seed dormancy release and germination of Gentiana lutea subsp. lutea, to identify the class and level of seed dormancy and to suggest an optimal germination protocol.
Methods Seeds belonging to two different localities were subjected to various pre-treatments, including cold stratification (0 and 5°C), warm stratification (25/10°C) and different combinations of these, and then incubated at a range of constant temperatures (5–25°C) and 25/10°C. Embryo growth during pre-treatments and incubation conditions were assessed at different times by measuring the embryo to seed length ratio (E:S ratio). The final germination percentage (FGP) and the germination rate (t 50) were calculated.
Important findings Fleshy mature seeds of G. lutea subsp. lutea have linear underdeveloped embryos. Cold stratification at 0°C was effective in overcoming the physiological dormancy (PD) and promoted embryo growth and subsequent germination. After cold stratification at 0°C, both the root and the shoot emerged readily under a wide range of temperatures. G. lutea subsp. lutea seeds showed an intermediate complex morphophysiological dormancy (MPD). As regards the optimal germination protocol for this taxon, we suggest a period of cold stratification at ca. 0°C followed by seed incubation at 10–20°C. The optimal germination temperatures found for seeds of this taxon, as well as its pre-chilling requirement at 0°C, suggest that it is well adapted to a temperate climate; this behavior highlights an increasing threat from global warming for G. lutea, which could reduce the level of natural emergence in the field, prejudicing also the long-term persistence of the natural populations in Sardinia.

Aims There are a number of mechanisms that regulate germination; among these, seed dormancy, one of the most important, is an adaptative mechanism in plants to promote survival by dispersing germination in space and time until environmental conditions are favourable for germination. The main goals of this study were to determine the temperature requirements for seed dormancy release and germination of Gentiana lutea subsp. lutea, to identify the class and level of seed dormancy and to suggest an optimal germination protocol.
Methods Seeds belonging to two different localities were subjected to various pre-treatments, including cold stratification (0 and 5°C), warm stratification (25/10°C) and different combinations of these, and then incubated at a range of constant temperatures (5–25°C) and 25/10°C. Embryo growth during pre-treatments and incubation conditions were assessed at different times by measuring the embryo to seed length ratio (E:S ratio). The final germination percentage (FGP) and the germination rate (t 50) were calculated.
Important findings Fleshy mature seeds of G. lutea subsp. lutea have linear underdeveloped embryos. Cold stratification at 0°C was effective in overcoming the physiological dormancy (PD) and promoted embryo growth and subsequent germination. After cold stratification at 0°C, both the root and the shoot emerged readily under a wide range of temperatures. G. lutea subsp. lutea seeds showed an intermediate complex morphophysiological dormancy (MPD). As regards the optimal germination protocol for this taxon, we suggest a period of cold stratification at ca. 0°C followed by seed incubation at 10–20°C. The optimal germination temperatures found for seeds of this taxon, as well as its pre-chilling requirement at 0°C, suggest that it is well adapted to a temperate climate; this behavior highlights an increasing threat from global warming for G. lutea, which could reduce the level of natural emergence in the field, prejudicing also the long-term persistence of the natural populations in Sardinia.