J Plant Ecol ›› 2019, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (6): 949-961.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtz034

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Seed provenance determines germination responses of Rumex crispus (L.) under water stress and nutrient availability

María Pérez-Fernández1,*, Carole P. Elliott2,3, Alex Valentine4 and José Antonio Oyola5   

  1. 1Ecology Area, University Pablo de Olavide, Carretera de Utrera Km 1, 41013 Sevilla, Spain
    2Kings Park Science, Botanic Garden and Parks Authority, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Kattidj Close, Kings Park, WA 6005, Australia
    3School of Biological Science, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
    4Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
    5Physics Department, University of Extremadura, Avenida de Elvas s/n, 06006 Badajoz, Spain
    *Correspondence address. Ecology Area, University Pablo de Olavide, Carretera de Utrera Km 1, 41013 Sevilla, Spain. Tel: +34 954977935; E-mail: maperfer@upo.es
  • Received:2018-05-30 Revised:2019-05-13 Accepted:2019-06-03 Published:2019-12-01



Seeds of Rumex crispus from six provenances were studied in relation to their germination under drought and presence of nitrogen in the germination and emergence media. We also investigated whether adaptation to soil increases the ability of the species to colonize and establish in contrasting environments along a longitudinal gradient in western Spain by means of a reciprocal transplantation experiment.


We conducted a germination trial in the lab to test for the germination responses to water scarcity along a polyethylene glycol gradient and to varying concentrations of nitrogen compounds. Simultaneously reciprocal transplantations experiment was conducted, where seeds from six provenances were grown in the soils from the very same provenances. Seedling emergence, survivorship and fitness-related variables were measured in all plots.

Important Findings

We found that R. crispus has a cold-stratification requirement that enhances its germination. Significant differences between the six provenances were detected for time-to-germination, total seedling emergence, plant mortality and reproductive effort in all the experiments. The differences between provenances with respect to germination were confirmed by the significant statistical analyses of the variance, thus providing evidence that seeds from parent plants grown in different environmental conditions have an intrinsically different abilities to germinate and establish. Soil nitrogen content where seed germination and seedlings establish also play an important role in their performance in terms of survivorship and reproduction, being the higher levels of inorganic nitrogen and of microbial biomass those that increased biomass production, enhanced inflorescence formation and reduced plant mortality. We conclude that one of the main reasons for the spread and maintenance of R. crispus would be the increased levels of nitrogen in agricultural soils.

Key words: seed provenance, germination, latitudinal gradient, drought, N-compounds, soil properties