Germination strategies of selected Kuwaiti desert plants and their implications for dryland restoration

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Narayana Bhat

Publication Date:

Desert plants use a number of strategies to survive in arid environments, which are characterized by extremely high temperature, intense radiation, strong winds, low and erratic rainfall, high evaporation rates, soil erosion, and lower nutrient availability. These species produce certain structures that help in seed dispersal to suitable microsites and/or regulate their germination response to prevailing conditions. Some species also produce heteromorphic seeds or maintain aerial seed banks to cope with extreme environmental conditions. The adaptive mechanisms in three of Kuwait’s native plants, namely, Farsetia aegyptia Turra (presence mucilage), Seidlitzia rosmarinus Boiss. (presence of wings) and Calligonum comosum (heteromorphic seeds) were studied and their germination behavior under different temperature and light regimes and elevated salinity conditions was determined in the present study. Irrespective of incubation temperature regimes and photoperiods, de-winged S. rosmarinus seeds germinated better (76-88% total germination) than intact seeds (24-41%) with the low temperature regime (20/15 °C) resulting in 10% higher germination (85-88% vs. 76-78%). Although the presence of mucilage and thermoperiod did not affect the germination, longer storage significantly increased the germinabilty of C. comosum seeds. Increasing salinity levels decreased the germination of all three species, but ungerminated seeds were able to germinate when the salinity stress was alleviated. These mechanisms allow them to minimize the impact of adverse habitat conditions and maintain seed viability. The implications of these adaptive mechanisms for dryland restoration will be discussed in this paper.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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