Article | 08. 2014 Vol. 32, Issue. 4
Underdeveloped Embryos and Dormancy Type in Seeds of Two Heloniopsis Species Endemic to Korea

Department of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, Seoul National University1
Research Institute of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University2

2014.08. 550:557


Heloniopsis koreana and Heloniopsis tubiflora (Melanthiaceae) are endemic herbaceous species of the Korean Peninsula. The Melanthiaceae family has been described as having seeds with small, underdeveloped embryos at the time of dispersal, and morphological (MD) or morphophysiological dormancy (MPD). However, there are few reports on embryo growth, morphology, and seed germination in Heloniopsis species. The aims of this study were to investigate embryo growth and seed dormancy, and to determine the type of dormancy exhibited by these species. The effects of incubation temperatures, light conditions, and gibberellic acid (GA3) on dormancy break and seed germination were tested. Freshly matured seeds of the two species had small embryos that occupied about 9-11% of the length of the endosperm, and which increased by more than 300% in length before radicle emergence, indicating that the embryos are underdeveloped at the time of dispersal. Embryos in the seeds grew under warm temperature regimes (between 25/15°C and 30/20°C). GA3 application (tested only in the light) overcame seed dormancy and promoted germination. Approximately 30% of the seeds of H. koreana and approximately 40% of the seeds of H. tubiflora germinated in suitable environmental conditions (light and temperature) within 4 weeks. Therefore, 30-40% of the seeds of the two species exhibited MD, and the rest of the seeds had non-deep simple MPD. Light was found to be one of the critical factors for germination because no seed of either of the two Heloniopsis species germinated under constant dark conditions, and thus, these species have the potential to form a persistent soil seed bank. Understanding these germination requirements will help in development of effective strategies to increase the establishment of seedlings in their native habitat.

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