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Potential Effects of Awn Length Variation on Seed Yield and Components, Seed Dispersal and Germination Performance in Siberian Wildrye (Elymus sibiricus L.)

1
State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Grassland Livestock Industry Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730020, China
2
Sichuan Academy of Grassland Science, Chengdu 611731, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Plants 2019, 8(12), 561; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8120561
Received: 22 October 2019 / Revised: 23 November 2019 / Accepted: 27 November 2019 / Published: 1 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Ecology)
: Awns, needle-like structures formed on the distal of the lemmas in the florets, are of interest because of their essential roles in seed dispersal, germination and photosynthesis. Previous research has reported the potential benefits of awns in major cereal grasses, yet reports on the agronomic and economic implications of awn length variation in forage grasses remain scarce. This study investigated the variation of awn length among 20 Siberian wildrye populations and the effect of awn length on seed yield and yield components. This work then studied the impact of awn length on seed dispersal and germination. The analyses indicated a high level of awn length variation among populations. Awn length showed a significant influence on harvested seed yield per plant (p < 0.05) mostly driven by interactions between awn length and the majority of seed yield components. Principal component analysis clearly revealed that the final impact of awn length on seed yield depends on the balance of its positive and negative effects on traits determining seed yield. Furthermore, awn length tended to increase seed dispersal distance, although little diversity in the nature of this progression was observed in some populations. Awn length exhibited a significant relationship (p < 0.05) with germination percentage. It also tended to shorten germination duration, although this interaction was not statistically significant. Collectively, these results provide vital information for breeding and agronomic programs aiming to maintain yield in grasses. This is the first report to demonstrate in Siberian wildrye the agronomic impacts of awn length variation.
Keywords: awns; seed yield components; seed yield; seed germination; seed dispersal; grasses awns; seed yield components; seed yield; seed germination; seed dispersal; grasses
MDPI and ACS Style

Ntakirutimana, F.; Xiao, B.; Xie, W.; Zhang, J.; Zhang, Z.; Wang, N.; Yan, J. Potential Effects of Awn Length Variation on Seed Yield and Components, Seed Dispersal and Germination Performance in Siberian Wildrye (Elymus sibiricus L.). Plants 2019, 8, 561.

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