Topicalities in Forest Ecology of Seeds

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2023) | Viewed by 10016

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The gene pool of forest trees is part of the natural wealth of the environment, and is important for the future of forests in terms of the adaptability and ecological stability of forest stands. Maintaining the morphological and physiological quality of forest tree seeds is the most important condition for the possibility of successful forest reproduction. Advancing climate change, forest soil degradation and inappropriate management are weakening healthy trees, causing the forest to become less stable and vulnerable. Knowledge of reproductive material and related topics can help us to better understand how forests work in relation to ongoing climate change. This Special Issue will provide an overview of the most recent advances in the field of seed ecology and its applications in diverse areas, by providing selected contributions on advances in the seeds and fruits of forest species, their morphological and physiological characterization, and many related topics.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Flowering and pollination of forest trees;
  • Seed and fruit quality;
  • Forest seed production;
  • Seed dispersal;
  • Soil seed bank;
  • Seed germination and early seedling growth;
  • Seed dormancy;
  • Seed and fruit predation by animals;
  • Perspectives in forest seed technology.

Dr. Božena Šerá
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • seed production
  • seed quality
  • seed dispersal
  • seed germination
  • early seedling growth
  • soil seed bank
  • seed dormancy
  • seed predation

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Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 5776 KiB  
Article
Study on Desiccation Tolerance and Biochemical Changes of Sassafras tzumu (Hemsl.) Hemsl. Seeds
by Chenyin Peng, Mingzhu Wang, Yu Wu, Qilong Hua and Yongbao Shen
Forests 2023, 14(11), 2183; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14112183 - 2 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1015
Abstract
The deciduous tree species Sassafras tzumu (Hemsl.) Hemsl., unique to China, holds significant economic and ecological value. However, its seeds exhibit poor storage tolerance and rapid decline in seed vigor. This study primarily investigates the desiccation tolerance of S. tzumu seeds. The results [...] Read more.
The deciduous tree species Sassafras tzumu (Hemsl.) Hemsl., unique to China, holds significant economic and ecological value. However, its seeds exhibit poor storage tolerance and rapid decline in seed vigor. This study primarily investigates the desiccation tolerance of S. tzumu seeds. The results show that S. tzumu seeds have recalcitrant seed characteristics, with a semi-inactivation water content (at which point half of the seeds lose viability) of 20.7%. As desiccation progresses, seed viability decreases significantly; at a reduced water content of 11.93%, only 18.3% of the seeds remain viable, while most lose their viability completely. Relative electrolytic leakage (REC) and H2O2 content gradually increase during this process, while MDA content initially decreases before increasing again, exhibiting distinct trends compared to antioxidant enzyme activities such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), and catalase (CAT). SOD and POD activities exhibit an initial increase followed by a rapid decrease, whereas CAT activity shows a decline followed by a rapid increase. Dehydration to 15% water content in seeds is a key turning point in the process of seed desiccation in S. tzumu, and CAT is an enzyme key to maintaining seed viability. Both the accumulation of toxins and the decline in the activity of the antioxidant system contribute to the susceptibility of S. tzumu seeds to drought stress, a characteristic common to all recalcitrant seeds. To maintain high seed viability above 70% during storage, it is crucial to ensure water content above 23.58%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Topicalities in Forest Ecology of Seeds)
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17 pages, 3908 KiB  
Article
Effects of Seed Biological Characteristics and Environmental Factors on Seed Germination of the Critically Endangered Species Hopea chinensis (Merr.) Hand.-Mazz. in China
by Xiongsheng Liu, Yufei Xiao, Yaming Ling, Nanyan Liao, Renjie Wang, Yong Wang, Huizi Liang, Juan Li and Fengfan Chen
Forests 2023, 14(10), 1975; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14101975 - 28 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1058
Abstract
Hopea chinensis (Merr.) Hand.-Mazz. is a Class II national key protected plant and Plant Species with Extremely Small Populations in China. In order to further analyze why H. chinensis is endangered and optimize conservation techniques, we carried out a study on the effects [...] Read more.
Hopea chinensis (Merr.) Hand.-Mazz. is a Class II national key protected plant and Plant Species with Extremely Small Populations in China. In order to further analyze why H. chinensis is endangered and optimize conservation techniques, we carried out a study on the effects of seed biological characteristics and environmental factors on the seed germination and seedling growth of H. chinensis. The results show that there were no significant differences in seed morphology between four populations in southern China, but there were significant differences in calyx lobe morphology and seed germination. The removal or retention of the calyx lobes or the seed coat had no significant effect on seed germination. The weight of individual H. chinensis seeds was mainly >1.0 g, with small seeds (<0.5 g) not germinating, whereas seeds >2.0 g had the highest germination rate and fastest seedling growth. H. chinensis produces typical recalcitrant seeds, being sensitive to natural dehydration, with dehydration for 8 d reducing seed viability by 50%, whereas dehydration for 16 d resulted in seeds with zero viability. H. chinensis seeds are light-neutral and capable of germination at a temperature of 30 °C and on a substrate with good water retention and aeration. The seeds are not tolerant of drought, salinity, or flooding. In conclusion, the unique biological characteristics of H. chinensis seeds and the specific habitat which they inhabit contribute to a significant loss of viable seeds, which negatively affects the population’s ability to regenerate and achieve maintenance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Topicalities in Forest Ecology of Seeds)
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13 pages, 3785 KiB  
Article
Non-Thermal Plasma Treatment Improves Properties of Dormant Seeds of Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.)
by Božena Šerá, Jana Jirešová, Vladimír Scholtz, Jaroslav Julák and Josef Khun
Forests 2023, 14(3), 471; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14030471 - 25 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1389
Abstract
This article deals with the breaking down of seed dormancy in black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) seeds. These seeds have a hard testa that is impermeable to water and air. In this investigation, seeds of black locust were treated with non-thermal plasma [...] Read more.
This article deals with the breaking down of seed dormancy in black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) seeds. These seeds have a hard testa that is impermeable to water and air. In this investigation, seeds of black locust were treated with non-thermal plasma (NTP) for 0, 5, 10, and 20 min. The testa of the treated seeds had an eroded surface (SEM analysis) and showed an increased oxygen content (EDS) and increased hydrophilicity (contact-angle measurement). The exposed seeds also had a higher water absorption (seed water uptake) than the untreated ones. In seeds treated for 20 min, a significant difference (p < 0.05) was recorded in seed germination (eight times greater than the control set) and in other parameters of initial seedling development, such as the fresh weight of both seedling root and shoot and all three indexes of seedling vitality. The detected changes in the seed surface and changes in germination proved that NTP can partly break dormancy in black-locust seeds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Topicalities in Forest Ecology of Seeds)
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11 pages, 1067 KiB  
Article
Type 2 Nondeep Physiological Dormancy in Seeds of Fraxinus chinensis subsp. rhynchophylla (Hance) A.E.Murray
by Kangming An, Minghan Yang, Carol Caudle Baskin, Mingyue Li, Meiru Zhu, Chunjing Jiao, Haibo Wu and Peng Zhang
Forests 2022, 13(11), 1951; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13111951 - 18 Nov 2022
Viewed by 1531
Abstract
Fraxinus chinensis subsp. rhynchophylla (Oleaceae), hereafter F. rhynchophylla, is an important timber species in northeast China; however, little is known about its seed dormancy and germination, which hinders regeneration of the species from seeds for reforestation and conservation. Our aim was to determine [...] Read more.
Fraxinus chinensis subsp. rhynchophylla (Oleaceae), hereafter F. rhynchophylla, is an important timber species in northeast China; however, little is known about its seed dormancy and germination, which hinders regeneration of the species from seeds for reforestation and conservation. Our aim was to determine the class of seed dormancy and how to break it. Studies were conducted to determine the permeability of the seed coat to water, changes in embryo development during cold stratification and effects of cold stratification on germination over a range of temperatures. The seeds were water-permeable, and the embryo was fully developed and filled the embryonic cavity. Cold stratification at 5 °C for 8 weeks was effective in breaking dormancy; thus, we conclude that the seeds have nondeep physiological dormancy (PD). As cold stratification time was increased, the ability of seeds to germinate at low temperatures (e.g., 10 °C and 15 °C) increased, indicating the presence of Type 2 nondeep PD, in which the minimum temperature for germination decreases during dormancy-break. Nondormant seeds germinated to high percentages and rates at constant temperatures of 25 °C (germination percentage was 63%) and at alternating temperature regimes of 35 °C/25 °C, 30 °C/15 °C, 25 °C/20 °C and 20 °C/10 °C (germination percentage was 66%, 67%, 65% and 66%, respectively). To produce seedlings, we recommend 8 weeks of cold stratification at 5 °C before sowing the seeds at temperatures ranging from 15 °C to 30 °C. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Topicalities in Forest Ecology of Seeds)
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12 pages, 2912 KiB  
Article
Auxiliary Seed Treatment Is Necessary to Increase Recruitment of a Critically Endangered Species, Abies beshanzuensis (Pinaceae)
by Rui Hu, Yajing Liu, Jiaxin Zhang, Hua Xing, Sha Jiang and Yu Liu
Forests 2022, 13(6), 961; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13060961 - 19 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2006
Abstract
Disordered germination is widely observed in plant species with extremely small populations (PSESPs) in China. Abies beshanzuensis M. H. Wu, a PSESP (with only three extant adults in Zhejiang Province, China) that also has poor seed germination in the field, belongs to the [...] Read more.
Disordered germination is widely observed in plant species with extremely small populations (PSESPs) in China. Abies beshanzuensis M. H. Wu, a PSESP (with only three extant adults in Zhejiang Province, China) that also has poor seed germination in the field, belongs to the Pinaceae family. Pinaceae generally tend toward symbiosis with ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi to alleviate climate change-induced stresses. Therefore, exploring how to improve seed germination of A. beshanzuensis and whether it is an ECM species will contribute to increasing recruitment for conducting further conservation research. In this study, four temperature regimes (10/15 °C, 15/20 °C, 20/25 °C, and 25/30 °C) were selected to explore the response of seed germination to rising temperature. Based on the microscopic features of fine roots, together with molecular techniques, the mycorrhizal type of this species was identified. The seed germination of A. beshanzuensis was increased from 1–2% to around 4.5% by 14-day cold stratification and under 20/25 °C fluctuating temperature conditions. Our findings indicated that A. beshanzuensis may be endangered as a result of insufficient seedling recruitment due to poor germination under the current climate. A. beshanzuensis was confirmed as an ECM fungi-associated tree species. This study highlights the necessity of incorporating auxiliary seed treatment into population recovery programs of A. beshanzuensis, thereby better conserving the species under ongoing environmental changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Topicalities in Forest Ecology of Seeds)
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13 pages, 2904 KiB  
Article
Does the Age of Pinus sylvestris Mother Trees Influence Reproductive Capacity and Offspring Seedling Survival?
by Marta Pardos, Javier Vázquez-Piqué, Luis Benito, Guillermo Madrigal, Reyes Alejano, Manuel Fernández and Rafael Calama
Forests 2022, 13(6), 937; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13060937 - 15 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2013
Abstract
We assess how the age of Pinus sylvestris mother trees influences seed size, seed viability, germination capacity and later offspring seedling survival under greenhouse conditions. Thirty trees ranging from 30 to 219 years old were selected in the north facing slopes in the [...] Read more.
We assess how the age of Pinus sylvestris mother trees influences seed size, seed viability, germination capacity and later offspring seedling survival under greenhouse conditions. Thirty trees ranging from 30 to 219 years old were selected in the north facing slopes in the Sierra de Guadarrama, where we could find the oldest Pinus sylvestris trees in central Spain. Forty cones per tree were harvested to study cone and seed characteristics (size and weight), seed viability and germination capacity related to the mother tree age. In addition, 25 germinated seeds per tree were grown in a greenhouse to assess offspring seedling survival during a death trial, where watering was stopped. Significant differences between trees in cone and seed morphological traits were observed. The age of the mother tree had a significant effect on cone size, seed size, and seed weight, but there was no effect on seed germination capacity and seed viability. Seedling survival was mainly affected by the decrease in water availability. However, a significant effect of the tree age was found once soil moisture had reached 0%. Our results show the ability of overmature Pinus sylvestris trees to maintain a relatively high reproductive capacity that assures its persistence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Topicalities in Forest Ecology of Seeds)
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