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Fire-related cues and the germination of eight Conostylis (Haemodoraceae) taxa, when freshly collected, after burial and after laboratory storage

  • Katherine S. Downes (a1), Marnie E. Light (a2), Martin Pošta (a3) and Johannes van Staden (a2)

The genus Conostylis (Haemodoraceae) is endemic to fire-prone south-western Australia. To gain an understanding of the effect of some fire-related germination cues, eight Conostylis taxa were tested in response to water, nitrate, smoke water and karrikinolide (KAR1) under light and dark conditions, when seeds were freshly collected and after a year of burial. The germination of all taxa tested was higher in response to smoke water and KAR1 than in water alone, whereas nitrate did not stimulate germination. Germination was higher in all taxa following 1 year of burial than in fresh seeds. Recently, glyceronitrile has been identified as another chemical in smoke water, apart from KAR1, that can stimulate the germination of certain species. The relative response of eight Conostylis taxa to KAR1, glyceronitrile and smoke water was examined in laboratory-stored seeds. Germination of these taxa was promoted by both smoke water and KAR1, except for C. neocymosa, which had high germination regardless of treatment. Four of the other seven taxa germinated to higher levels in at least one of the glyceronitrile concentrations tested (10, 50 or 100 μM) than in water alone. However, in only two of these taxa, C. aculeata subsp. septentrionora and C. juncea, was germination in glyceronitrile as high as that in smoke water. Thus, the response to glyceronitrile is not uniform across Conostylis taxa. Generally, germination was higher with KAR1 than glyceronitrile, suggesting that although some Conostylis taxa have the capacity to respond to glyceronitrile, KAR1 is the more important germination stimulant for this genus.

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