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Using hydrothermal time concepts to model seed germination response to temperature, dormancy loss, and priming effects in Elymus elymoides

  • Susan E. Meyer (a1), Susan B. Debaene-Gill (a2) and Phil S. Allen (a2)

Hydrothermal time (HTT) describes progress toward seed germination under various combinations of incubation water potential ( ) and temperature (T). To examine changes in HTT parameters during dormancy loss, seeds from two populations of the bunchgrass Elymus elymoides were incubated under seven temperature regimes following dry storage at 10, 20 and 30°C for intervals from 0 to 16 weeks. Fully after-ripened seeds were primed for 1 week at a range of s. Data on germination rate during priming were used to obtain a HTT equation for each seed population, while data obtained following transfer to water were used to calculate HTT accumulation during priming. HTT equations accurately predicted germination time course curves if mean base water potential, b(50), was allowed to vary with temperature. b(50) values increased linearly with temperature, explaining why germination rate does not increase with temperature in this species. b(50) showed a linear decrease as a function of thermal time in storage. Slopes for the T × b(50) relationship did not change during after-ripening. This thermal after-ripening time model was characterized by a single base temperature and a constant slope across temperatures for each collection. Because the difference between initial and final b(50)s was uniform across tempera-tures, the thermal after-ripening requirement was also a constant. When seeds were primed for 1 week at −4 to −20 MPa, accumulation of HTT was a uniform 20% of the total HTT requirement. When primed at 0 to −4 MPa, HTT accumulation decreased linearly with decreasing priming potential, and a hydrothermal priming time model using a constant minimum priming potential adequately described priming effects. Use of these simple HTT relationships will facilitate modelling of germination phenology in the field.

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Seed Science Research
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