Skip to main content Accessibility help

On the use of fungicides in ecological seed burial studies

  • Nadine Mitschunas (a1), Juliane Filser (a1) and Markus Wagner (a2)

Evidence for effects of saprophytic fungi on buried seed demography is usually obtained from studies involving the simultaneous burial of fungicide-treated seeds and of untreated seeds. However, any potential influence of fungicide treatment on seed dormancy levels is generally ignored in these studies. Also, some studies assume that a combination of several fungicidal compounds provides better protection against a broader range of fungi, ignoring chemical interactions that may potentially occur between different compounds. To investigate these issues, we carried out a 6-month burial experiment using seeds of Anthriscus sylvestris (L.) Hoffm., Centaurea nigra L. and Daucus carota L., and three substrates differing in organic matter content. Three fungicidal compounds, captan, iprodione and mancozeb, were applied alone and in combination, including an untreated control. All fungicidal compounds and combinations thereof provided protection against fungal-induced seed mortality and, except for a low efficacy of iprodione in protecting seeds of Anthriscus, there were no pronounced differences in seed mortality between different fungicide treatments. Captan temporarily inhibited germination in Centaurea, whereas a similar inhibition in Daucus seeds caused by mancozeb was more long lasting, suggesting an induction of secondary dormancy. Organic matter content had only a negligible influence on these results. Our results suggest that the basic conclusions from most seed burial studies are robust with respect to their choice of fungicide. We conclude by discussing further implications of our findings for the design and interpretation of seed burial studies.

Corresponding author
*Correspondence Email:
Hide All
Andrades, M.S., Rodríguez-Cruz, M.S., Sánchez-Martín, M.J. and Sánchez-Camazano, M. (2004) Effect of the modification of natural clay minerals with hexadecylpyridinium cation on the adsorption–desorption of fungicides. International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry 84, 133141.
Backman, P.A. (1978) Fungicide formulation: relationship to biological activity. Annual Reviews in Phytopathology 16, 211237.
Baskin, C.C. and Baskin, J.M. (1998) Seeds: ecology, biogeography, and evolution of dormancy and germination. San Diego, Academic Press.
Baskin, C.C. and Baskin, J.M. (2006) The natural history of soil seed banks of arable land. Weed Science 54, 549557.
Blaney, C.S. and Kotanen, P.M. (2001) Effects of fungal pathogens on seeds of native and exotic plants: a test using congeneric pairs. Journal of Applied Ecology 38, 11041113.
Blaney, C.S. and Kotanen, P.M. (2002) Persistence in the seed bank: the effects of fungi and invertebrates on seeds of native and exotic plants. Ecoscience 9, 509517.
Clark, S.M. and Scott, D.J. (1982) Effects of carboxin, benomyl and captan on the germination of wheat during the post-harvest dormancy period. Seed Science and Technology 10, 8794.
Cottrell, H.J. (1947) Tetrazolium salt as a seed germination indicator. Nature 159, 748.
Dalling, J.W., Swaine, M.D. and Garwood, N.C. (1998) Dispersal patterns and seed bank dynamics of pioneer trees in moist tropical forest. Ecology 79, 564578.
Deacon, J. (2006) Fungal biology (4th edition). Malden, Blackwell.
Deutscher Wetterdienst (2008) Ausgabe der Klimadaten: Monatswerte. Available at (accessed 3 March 2008).
Fellows, G.M. and Roeth, F.W. (1992) Factors influencing shattercane (Sorghum bicolor) seed survival. Weed Science 40, 434440.
Flemion, F. and Henrickson, E.T. (1949) Further studies on the occurrence of embryoless seeds and immature embryos in the Umbelliferae. Contributions from Boyce Thompson Institute 15, 291297.
Gallandt, E.R., Fuerst, E.P. and Kennedy, A.C. (2004) Effect of tillage, fungicide treatment, and soil fumigation on seed bank dynamics of wild oat (Avena fatua). Weed Science 52, 597604.
Gange, A.C., Brown, V.K. and Farmer, L.M. (1992) Effects of pesticides on the germination of weed seeds: implications for manipulative experiments. Journal of Applied Ecology 29, 303310.
Gisi, U. (1996) Synergistic interaction of fungicides in mixtures. Phytopathology 86, 12731279.
Goring, C.A.I. (1967) Physical aspects of soil in relation to the action of soil fungicides. Annual Review of Phytopathology 5, 285317.
Hartz, T.K. and Caprile, J. (1995) Germination of sh2 sweet corn following seed disinfestation, solid-matrix priming, and microbial seed treatment. Hortscience 30, 14001402.
Jäger, E.J. and Werner, K. (2002) Rothmaler – Exkursionsflora von Deutschland: Gefäßpflanzen, Kritischer Band. Heidelberg, Spektrum.
Kitajima, K. and Fenner, M. (2000) Ecology of seedling regeneration. pp. 331359in Fenner, M. (Ed.) Seeds: the ecology of regeneration in plant communities. Wallingford, CABI Publishing.
Kotanen, P.M. (2007) Effects of fungal seed pathogens under conspecific and heterospecific trees in a temperate forest. Canadian Journal of Botany 85, 918925.
Laird, R.A. and Addicott, J.F. (2008) ‘Fungicide application method’ and the interpretation of mycorrhizal fungus–insect indirect effects. Acta Oecologica 34, 214220.
Leishman, M.R., Masters, G.J., Clarke, I.P. and Brown, V.K. (2000) Seed bank dynamics: the role of fungal pathogens and climate change. Functional Ecology 14, 293299.
Lonsdale, W.M. (1993) Losses from the seed bank of Mimosa pigra: soil micro-organisms vs. temperature fluctuations. Journal of Applied Ecology 30, 654660.
Lopes, N.P., de Queiroz, M.E.L.R., Neves, A.A. and Zambolim, L. (2002) Influência da material orgânica na adsorção do fungicida triadimenol pelo solo. Quimica Nova 25, 544547.
Milberg, P. and Andersson, L. (1997) Seasonal variation in dormancy and light sensitivity in buried seeds of eight annual weed species. Canadian Journal of Botany 75, 19982004.
Mitschunas, N., Wagner, M. and Filser, J. (2006) Evidence for a positive influence of fungivorous soil invertebrates on the seed bank persistence of grassland species. Journal of Ecology 94, 791800.
Mitschunas, N., Wagner, M. and Filser, J. (2008) Increased field emergence of seedlings at high densities of fungivorous soil mesofauna. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 135, 272280.
Neergaard, P. (1979) Seed pathology. London, Macmillan Press.
O'Hanlon-Manners, D.L. and Kotanen, P.M. (2004) Evidence that fungal pathogens inhibit recruitment of a shade-intolerant tree, white birch (Betulapapyrifera), in understory habitats. Oecologia 140, 650653.
Orrock, D.L. and Damschen, E.I. (2005) Fungi-mediated mortality of seeds of two old-field plant species. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 132, 613617.
Paul, N.D., Ayres, P.G. and Wyness, L.E. (1989) On the use of fungicides for experimentation in natural vegetation. Functional Ecology 3, 759769.
Quinn, G.P. and Keough, M.J. (2002) Experimental design and data analysis for biologists. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Scardavi, A. (1966) Synergism among fungicides. Annual Review of Phytopathology 4, 335346.
Schafer, M. and Kotanen, P.M. (2004) Impacts of naturally-occurring soil fungi on seeds of meadow plants. Plant Ecology 175, 1935.
Schütz, W. (2002) Dormancy characteristics and germination timing in two alpine Carex species. Basic and Applied Ecology 3, 125134.
Simmen, U. and Gisi, U. (1995) Effects of seed treatment with SAN-789-F, a homopropargylamine fungicide, on germination and contents of squalene and sterols of wheat seedlings. Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology 52, 2532.
Sinha, A.P., Singh, K. and Mukhopadhyay, A.N. (1988) Soil fungicides. Boca Raton, CRC Press.
Smiley, R.W., Patterson, L.M. and Rhinhart, K.E.L. (1996) Fungicide seed treatment effects on emergence of deeply planted winter wheat. Journal of Production Agriculture 9, 564570.
Sokal, R.R. and Rohlf, F.J. (1995) Biometry – the principles and practice of statistics in biology research. New York, Freeman.
Thompson, K. and Grime, J.P. (1983) A comparative study of germination responses to diurnally-fluctuating temperatures. Journal of Applied Ecology 20, 141156.
Thompson, K., Bakker, J.P. and Bekker, R.M. (1997) The soil seed banks of North West Europe: methodology, density and longevity. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Van Mourik, T.A., Stomph, T.J. and Murdoch, A.J. (2005) Why high seed densities within buried mesh bags may overestimate depletion rates of soil seed banks. Journal of Applied Ecology 42, 299305.
Vleeshouwers, L.M. and Bouwmeester, H.J. (2001) A simulation model for seasonal changes in dormancy and germination of weed seeds. Seed Science Research 11, 7792.
Wagner, M. and Mitschunas, N. (2008) Fungal effects on seed bank persistence and potential applications in weed biocontrol: a review. Basic and Applied Ecology 9, 191203.
Whitehead, R. (1998) The UK pesticide guide. Cambridge, Massachusetts, CABI Publishing.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Seed Science Research
  • ISSN: 0960-2585
  • EISSN: 1475-2735
  • URL: /core/journals/seed-science-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed