Special Issue "Seed Dormancy and Germination as Key for Crop Establishment and Food Production"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Crop Breeding and Genetics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (3 May 2021) | Viewed by 24016

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Juan Pablo Renzi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Hilario Ascasubi, ArgentinaUniversidad Nacional del Sur, Departamento de Agronomía, Argentina
Interests: seed technology; seed dormancy; predictive modelling; plant breeding; pasture legumes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We invite you to contribute to the Special Issue "Seed Dormancy and Germination as Key for Crop Establishment and Food Production".

Timing of seed germination is one of the key steps in plant life. It determines when plants enter natural or agricultural ecosystems and is the basis for crop production. In the wild, many seeds only germinate after certain conditions have occurred. In contrast, crops tend to germinate as soon as they are wet and planted. A certain level of seed dormancy is desirable even in crops, since precocious germination might be detrimental to harvest. Balance in seed germination is also important for processing, like barley malting. In the context of restoration, recruitment limitations must be considered, which involve seed persistence, dormancy, and germination. Dormancy is a common attribute of many weed seed populations.

Following maturation, seed might be ready to germinate under favourable conditions. A diverse range of dormancy mechanisms has evolved in keeping with the diversity of climates and habitats. Dormancy and germination traits are controlled in a highly complex manner. Seed dormancy is also one of the key traits altered during domestication process, since it is vital for crop establishment. Soil seed banks spanning over several generations are ubiquitous for many species with seed dormancy in plants. Seed banks are also key for the conservation of endangered plant species as a life history trait modulating habitat fragmentation.

Advances in the study of seed dormancy and germination currently focus on mechanistic biology mediated by either the genome or epigenome and the relationship with new environmental conditions. Agricultural systems are increasingly more complex and the biological knowledge of interactions is needed to improve crop production. In addition, seed traits related to germination timing with suitable conditions remain largely unexplored, despite playing a central role in improving our understanding of plant evolution and ecosystem functioning. Understanding how the numerous seed traits map to germination functions is necessary for integrating regeneration traits into ecological strategies and advancing predictive models. In the latter, bio-ecological limitations arise as seed dormancy processes and germination requirements of various species remain to be elucidated to bridge the ecological knowledge gap for accurate emergence prediction. A new generation of modelling approaches based on soft computing techniques are positioned as an interesting methodology to assist with this task.

This Special Issue aims to provide up-to-date information on various aspects of seed dormancy and germination, both from theoretical and practical perspectives, from biology and genetics to agronomical aspects.

We welcome the following article types: original research, reviews, and opinions.

Prof. Dr. Petr Smýkal
Prof. Juan Pablo Renzi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Seed germination
  • Seed dormancy
  • Dormancy mechanisms
  • Seed banks
  • Crop production
  • Predictive models

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Article
Evaluation of Seed Dormancy, One of the Key Domestication Traits in Chickpea
Agronomy 2021, 11(11), 2292; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11112292 - 12 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1182
Abstract
Legume seed dormancy has been altered during the domestication process, resulting in non-dormant seeds with a testa that is readily permeable for water. Ultimately, this provides fast and uniform germination, in contrast to dormant seeds of the wild progenitor. To date, germination and [...] Read more.
Legume seed dormancy has been altered during the domestication process, resulting in non-dormant seeds with a testa that is readily permeable for water. Ultimately, this provides fast and uniform germination, in contrast to dormant seeds of the wild progenitor. To date, germination and seed dormancy were studied mostly in relation to two types of cultivated chickpea: kabuli and desi. We studied seed dormancy, from physiological and anatomical perspectives, in chickpea crops and compared cultivated chickpeas to the wild chickpea progenitor and set of recombinant inbred lines (RIL). There was significant difference in the macrosclereid length of parental genotypes. Cultivated chickpea (C. arietinum, ICC4958) had mean of 125 µm, while wild C. reticulatum (PI48977) had a mean of 165 µm. Histochemical staining of the seed coat also showed differences, mainly in terms of Sudan Red detection of lipidic substances. Imbibition and germination were tested and several germination coefficients were calculated. Cultivated chickpea seeds imbibed readily within 24 h, while the germination percentage of wild chickpea at various times was 36% (24 h), 46% (48 h), 60% (72 h) and reached 100% only after 20 days. RIL lines showed a broader distribution. This knowledge will ultimately lead to the identification of the underlying molecular mechanism of seed dormancy in chickpea, as well as allowing comparison to phylogenetically related legumes, such as pea, lentil and faba bean, and could be utilized in chickpea breeding programs. Full article
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Article
Determination and Metabolite Profiling of Mixtures of Triterpenoid Saponins from Seeds of Chilean Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) Germplasm
Agronomy 2021, 11(9), 1867; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11091867 - 17 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1880
Abstract
The seed pericarp of Chenopodium quinoa Willd. (quinoa) contains a mixture of triterpenoid saponins conferring undesired organoleptic properties. In this study, we evaluated saponin content and their corresponding sapogenins in 114 different quinoa accessions. Relative saponin content ranged from 0.22 to 15.04 mg/g [...] Read more.
The seed pericarp of Chenopodium quinoa Willd. (quinoa) contains a mixture of triterpenoid saponins conferring undesired organoleptic properties. In this study, we evaluated saponin content and their corresponding sapogenins in 114 different quinoa accessions. Relative saponin content ranged from 0.22 to 15.04 mg/g of seed dry weight among the genotypes studied and the genotype effect was significant (p < 0.001). About 75% of the genotypes could be classified as low-saponin content lines which is promising in view of ongoing plant breeding efforts. In addition to the quantitative determination of saponins, metabolic profiling was performed by LC-FTICR-MS and LC-MS/MS. We obtained highly accurate mass estimation from ion spectra allowing the identification of twelve saponins of the oleanane type. These differ in their aglycons and in the number and type of glycoside units. Interestingly, we identified a saponin compound that, to our knowledge, had not been reported previously. Our study highlights that there is considerable variability concerning saponin content in quinoa, which contributes to the valorization of genetic resources towards the identification of genotypes that could be utilized in current and future quinoa breeding programs. Full article
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Article
Factors Determining Genotypic Variation in the Speed of Rice Germination
Agronomy 2021, 11(8), 1614; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11081614 - 13 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1434
Abstract
Rapid germination is important for both direct seeded rice in the field and for the production of germinated brown rice for healthy food. This study aims to evaluate genotypic differences in germination speed and identify characteristics that determine germination speed. Seven experiments were [...] Read more.
Rapid germination is important for both direct seeded rice in the field and for the production of germinated brown rice for healthy food. This study aims to evaluate genotypic differences in germination speed and identify characteristics that determine germination speed. Seven experiments were conducted to determine (i) the impact of dehulling on water absorption and germination, (ii) variety consistency in germination speed across crops grown in three years, and (iii) the effect of grain size. Germination speed in both paddy rice and dehulled brown rice was significantly correlated with grain moisture content at early stages of soaking, however significant interaction of genotype and grain type (paddy and brown rice) existed and varieties differed in their response to dehulling. Germination speed of grain from crops exposed to water deficit in the field was slightly slower than those with higher water supply. Sherpa/IRAT109 genotypes with smaller grain size tended to germinate faster than larger grain, however no significant effect of grain size existed among diversity set varieties. It was concluded that genotype ranking in germination speed was consistent across years and water availability conditions, and that barriers to water absorption in hull and pericarp were important determinants of germination speed. The existence of genotypic variation in germination speed has management implications for both field crop establishment and paddy germination in food processing. Full article
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Article
The Use of Electrostatic Field to Improve Soybean Seed Germination in Organic Production
Agronomy 2021, 11(8), 1473; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11081473 - 24 Jul 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1432
Abstract
Soybean production in the system of organic agriculture is not very demanding, and this has been well documented both through experimental results and commercial production. However, one of the biggest problems in organic production is the lack of adequate pre-sowing treatments. Therefore, the [...] Read more.
Soybean production in the system of organic agriculture is not very demanding, and this has been well documented both through experimental results and commercial production. However, one of the biggest problems in organic production is the lack of adequate pre-sowing treatments. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the effect of the electrostatic field. This is a physical treatment that was first used for seed treatment in the 18th century but has mostly been neglected since then. Seeds of five soybean genotypes with differently colored seed coats (yellow, green, dark green, brown, and black) were included in this study. The seeds were exposed to different values of direct current (DC) with the following voltages: 0 V (control), 3 V, 6 V, and 9 V, to which the seeds were exposed for 0 min (control), 1 min, and 3 min. After exposing the seeds to the electric field, the physiological properties of seeds and seedlings at the first stage of growth were evaluated. The results show that the effect of the electrostatic field on seed quality depends on the genotype, voltage, and exposure time. The application of DC can be a suitable method for improving seed germination and the initial growth of soybean seedlings. In addition, the results indicate that it is necessary to adjust the DC treatment (voltage and duration of exposure of seeds) to particular genotypes since inadequate treatments may reduce the quality of seeds. Full article
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Article
Spontaneous Gene Flow between Cultivated and Naturalized Vicia villosa Roth Populations Increases the Physical Dormancy Seed in a Semiarid Agroecosystem
Agronomy 2021, 11(5), 955; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11050955 - 12 May 2021
Viewed by 1011
Abstract
Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) is the second most cultivated vetch worldwide being used as a forage and cover crop. As it is not domesticated, it displays several wild traits including seed dormancy. The physical seed dormancy (PY) variation could be useful [...] Read more.
Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) is the second most cultivated vetch worldwide being used as a forage and cover crop. As it is not domesticated, it displays several wild traits including seed dormancy. The physical seed dormancy (PY) variation could be useful depending on the specific context. High PY is desirable for ley farming systems, while low PY is needed to prevent weediness in subsequent crop rotations. Gene flow between cultivated and naturalized populations has important ecological and agronomic consequences. Experiments were conducted to determine the change in the level of PY in spontaneous crosses between European cultivated accessions (EU) characterized by low PY and naturalized Argentinian population (AR) with high PY. Generations G0 (initial generation) to G3 were assessed for their PY in seeds and total dry matter (DM) per plot, at plant maturity. As the result of spontaneous crosses with the AR population, an increase from G0 to G3 in PY and DM in EU accessions was observed, while AR maintained its high PY and DM values. In one mating cycle, selecting for PY lower than 14% and high DM can satisfy breeding objectives for cover crops. Isolation during breeding and seed production is necessary to avoid gene flow. This knowledge extends to other legume species with gene flow between wild and cultivated populations. Full article
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Article
The Use of the Generalized Linear Model to Assess the Speed and Uniformity of Germination of Corn and Soybean Seeds
Agronomy 2021, 11(3), 588; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11030588 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1437
Abstract
The use of seeds with high physiological quality allows rapid growth and establishment of seedlings in the field to be obtained. Therefore, the accuracy of the information obtained during the determination of the physiological quality of seeds is of great importance. The objective [...] Read more.
The use of seeds with high physiological quality allows rapid growth and establishment of seedlings in the field to be obtained. Therefore, the accuracy of the information obtained during the determination of the physiological quality of seeds is of great importance. The objective was to use generalized linear models, investigating which link function (Probit, Logit and Complementary log-log) is suitable to predict T50 and uniformity during germination of soybean and corn seeds. To perform the experiments, we used seeds from five commercial hybrids and/or cultivars of corn and soybean. The germination speed was calculated by counting the germinated seeds and the results were expressed in the form of proportions. Germination uniformity was calculated by the difference in the times required for germination. The best model was selected according to the criteria of the test of Deviance, AIC and BIC. The Logit model showed accurate results for most cultivars. The evaluation of germination in the form of proportions considering the assumption of binomial response is satisfactory, and the choice of the link function is dependent on the characteristics of each lot and/or species evaluated. The use of this methodology makes it possible to estimate any germination time and uniformity. Full article
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Article
Effect of Pre-Sowing Magnetic Field Treatment on Enzymes and Phytohormones in Pea (Pisum sativum L.) Seeds and Seedlings
Agronomy 2021, 11(3), 494; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11030494 - 06 Mar 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1414
Abstract
The aim of the presented studies was to evaluate the magnetic field (MF) effect on changes in some enzymes and phytohormones that takes place in the process of seed germination and growth of seedlings. Studies were led in the climatic chambers HERAEUS, on [...] Read more.
The aim of the presented studies was to evaluate the magnetic field (MF) effect on changes in some enzymes and phytohormones that takes place in the process of seed germination and growth of seedlings. Studies were led in the climatic chambers HERAEUS, on Petri dishes during six consecutive days. Pea seeds were divided into three groups from which one was the control (without stimulation) and two were treated with different doses of magnetic field (30 and 85 mT, respectively). Contents of amylolytic enzymes (AE) and phytohormones were determined at seven terms (0; 24; 48; 72; 96; 120 and 144 h) after placing them on the dishes. A favorable effect of seed stimulation with MF was found on the biochemical processes in the germinating seeds and pea seedlings. The size of changes in enzyme concentration was dependent mainly on the advancement of germination process (i.e., on length of time in which the seeds were on the dishes) and the MF treatment. The use of MF also had an effect on the increase in hormone content in the seeds and organs of seedlings, but values from objects treated with different doses did not differ significantly. Full article
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Article
Seed Dormancy in Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) Is Influenced by Genotype and Environment
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1804; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111804 - 17 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2211
Abstract
Seed dormancy complicates the agricultural use of many legume species. Understanding the genetic and environmental drivers of seed dormancy is necessary for advancing crop improvement for legumes, such as Vicia villosa. In this study, we quantify the magnitude of genetic and environmental [...] Read more.
Seed dormancy complicates the agricultural use of many legume species. Understanding the genetic and environmental drivers of seed dormancy is necessary for advancing crop improvement for legumes, such as Vicia villosa. In this study, we quantify the magnitude of genetic and environmental effects on physical dormancy among 1488 maternal V. villosa plants from 18 diverse environments. Furthermore, we explore the relationship between physical dormancy and environmental conditions during seed development. Additive genetic variance (h2) accounted for 40% of the variance, while the growing environment explained 28% of the variance in physical dormancy. Maternal lines showed complete variance in physical dormancy, as one line was 100% dormant, and 56 lines were 0% dormant. Distributions of physical dormancy varied widely among seed production environments, with some site-years strongly skewed toward physically dormant seed, while other site-years exhibited little dormant seed. Twenty-three weather variables were associated with environmental and error effects of physical dormancy. High mean and minimum relative humidity, low mean and maximum temperature, and high precipitation weakly grouped with low physical dormancy. Weather variables calculated from fixed time windows approximating seed maturity to seed harvest at each site-year tended to be less predictive than biological seed drying windows calculated based on seed maturity of each maternal line. Overall, individual and cumulative effects of weather variables were poor predictors of physical dormancy. Moderate heritability indicates that breeding programs can select against physical dormancy and improve V. villosa for agricultural use. Marker-based approaches would maximize selection for physical dormancy by reducing the influence of unpredictable environmental effects. Full article
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Article
Water-Soluble Carbon Nanoparticles Improve Seed Germination and Post-Germination Growth of Lettuce under Salinity Stress
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1192; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081192 - 13 Aug 2020
Cited by 31 | Viewed by 3366
Abstract
Seed germination is a critical developmental phase for seedling establishment and crop production. Increasing salinity stress associated with climatic change can pose a challenge for seed germination and stand establishment of many crops including lettuce. Here, we show that water soluble carbon nanoparticles [...] Read more.
Seed germination is a critical developmental phase for seedling establishment and crop production. Increasing salinity stress associated with climatic change can pose a challenge for seed germination and stand establishment of many crops including lettuce. Here, we show that water soluble carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) can significantly promote seed germination without affecting seedling growth. Twenty-seven varieties of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) were screened for sensitivity to germination in 150 and 200 mM NaCl, and six salt-sensitive varieties (Little Gem, Parris Island, Breen, Butter Crunch, Muir, and Jericho) were selected and primed with 0.3% soluble carbon nanoparticles. Pretreatment with CNPs significantly improved seed germination under 150 mM NaCl and high temperature. CNP treatment slightly inhibited the elongation of primary roots but promoted lateral root growth and accumulation of chlorophyll content of seedlings grown under salt stress. Despite different lettuce varieties exhibiting a distinct response to nanoparticle treatments, results from this study indicate that soluble nanoparticles can significantly improve lettuce seed germination under salinity stress, which provide fundamental evidence on the potential of nanoparticles in agricultural application to improve crop yield and quality under stressful conditions. Full article
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Article
Release of Medicago truncatula Gaertn. and Pisum sativum subsp. elatius (M. Bieb.) Asch. et Graebn. Seed Dormancy Tested in Soil Conditions
Agronomy 2020, 10(7), 1026; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10071026 - 16 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1775
Abstract
Medicago truncatula (barrel medic) and Pisum sativum subsp. elatius (wild pea) accessions originating from variable environmental conditions in the Mediterranean basin were used to study physical seed dormancy (PY) release. The effect of soil burial on PY release was tested on 112 accessions [...] Read more.
Medicago truncatula (barrel medic) and Pisum sativum subsp. elatius (wild pea) accessions originating from variable environmental conditions in the Mediterranean basin were used to study physical seed dormancy (PY) release. The effect of soil burial on PY release was tested on 112 accessions of medic and 46 accessions of pea over the period of 3 months in situ at three common gardens (Hungary, Spain and Greece) from 2017 through 2019. PY release after soil exhumation followed by experimental laboratory germination of remaining dormant seeds (wet, 25 °C, 21 days) were related to the environmental conditions of the common garden and macroclimatic variables of the site of origin of the accessions. Higher PY release was observed in buried seeds under humid rather than under dry and hot environments. Exposure of remaining dormant seeds to experimental laboratory conditions increased total PY release up to 70% and 80% in barrel medic and wild pea, respectively. Wild pea showed higher phenotypic plasticity on PY release than barrel medic, which had higher bet-hedging within-season. Wild pea showed lower bet-hedging among-season (PY < 10%) in relation to precipitation than barrel medic, which was more conservative (PY ≈ 20%). Observed variability suggests that these species have the capability to cope with ongoing climate change. Full article
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Article
Allelopathic Impacts of Cover Crop Species and Termination Timing on Cotton Germination and Seedling Growth
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 638; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050638 - 01 May 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2367
Abstract
The integration of cover crops into cotton (Gossypium hirsutum, L.) production remains challenging. One potential negative impact of cover crops on cotton is allelopathy. Proper selection of cover crop species and termination timing could potentially reduce the impacts of allelopathy on [...] Read more.
The integration of cover crops into cotton (Gossypium hirsutum, L.) production remains challenging. One potential negative impact of cover crops on cotton is allelopathy. Proper selection of cover crop species and termination timing could potentially reduce the impacts of allelopathy on cotton seedlings. Two studies were conducted to determine cotton germination and growth sensitivity to cover crop leachate, which were measured using (I) five cover crops species, including: oats (Avena sativa L.), hairy vetch (Vicia Villosa), winter pea (Lathyrus hirsutus), winter wheat (Triticum aestivum), and annual rye (Lolium multiflorum), and (II) a blend of cover crops at four termination timings, including: at planting, three weeks prior to planting, six weeks prior to planting, and a split termination, where a 25 cm band in the top of the bed was terminated six weeks prior to planting, and the remaining cover crop was terminated at planting (referred to as strip 6-wk). Samples for Experiment I were collected on May 24th and for Experiment II on March 22nd (Strip/6-wk and 6-wk), April 30th (3-wk), and May 11th (at planting) in 2018. The effect of 0 (deionized water), 25, and 50 (v/v) cover crop leachate extract on cotton seed germination was evaluated in a series of controlled environmental studies. All cover crop species’ leachates negatively impacted cotton germination and seedling growth (p < 0.05). Germination inhibition rates declined numerically by species, with winter pea ≥ hairy vetch ≥ oats ≥ annual rye ≥ winter wheat at the 50 v/v concentrations. Winter pea germination inhibition on cotton equaled 47.0% and cotton radicle length was decreased by 62.8%. Termination at planting suppressed cotton germination more than the other termination timings, with the 50 v/v treatment resulting in a germination inhibition of 60.0%. Proper selection of cover crop species and termination timing prior to planting cotton will be critical in maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks of a cover crop. Full article
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Article
Persistence and Changes in Morphological Traits of Herbaceous Seeds Due to Burial in Soil
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 448; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030448 - 24 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2490
Abstract
Seeds in soil banks can survive for many years before conditions become more suitable for germination. Meanwhile, seeds undergo changes in morphology and viability. In this study, we launched an artificial seed bank experiment that included 26 species of seeds. We excavated cohorts [...] Read more.
Seeds in soil banks can survive for many years before conditions become more suitable for germination. Meanwhile, seeds undergo changes in morphology and viability. In this study, we launched an artificial seed bank experiment that included 26 species of seeds. We excavated cohorts for 6–8 consecutive years after burial (YAB) in order to determine changes in the morphology (mass, volume, density, seed form) and proportion of fresh (thus persistent) seeds using a crush test as a measure of persistence. The change in seed morphology was fitted by linear and logistic regression, and the proportion of persistent seeds was fitted by logistic regression (effectively by the binomial GLM), which enabled estimation of 50 and 5% persistence times (PT50 and PT05). We found that in most species, seed mass, volume and proportion of persistent seeds declined with YAB, while other morphological traits were less variable, and the decline in these traits with YAB was best fitted with logistic regression. The decline in the proportion of persistent seeds was better fitted by the change in mass than by YAB in some species. Among the species included in this study, PT50 ranged from 1.2 to 10.5 years, and PT05 ranged from 2.1 to 24.3 years. These results can contribute to better understanding of the ecology of weed seed bank persistence in soil. Describing the morphological changes that the seeds undergo in the soil bank may improve our understanding of the biology of seed persistence and facilitate the identification of seeds from the soil bank. Full article
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