Special Issue "Linking Seed Biology to Plant Preservation: New Advances and Perspectives"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Héctor E. Pérez
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, USA
Interests: Seed Biology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are living in an unprecedented time of plant biodiversity loss. Present estimates suggest that 30% of plant species are threatened with extinction. Moreover, current rates of extinction are three-orders of magnitude faster than extinction rates measured over geologic time. These two pieces of information should be astonishing to anyone given humanity’s dependence on plants for survival. However, we are not solely losing plants in danger of extinction. We are losing crop wild relatives that contain important genetic information. We are losing plants that serve as sources of medicines, foods, and fibers. We are losing undiscovered species that form important networks and provide valuable ecological services. Fortunately, several systems exist to preserve plant genetic diversity and give species a chance at winning in the biodiversity loss crisis. These systems span a continuum from preserving plants in their natural habitat to storage within genebanks.

Seeds form the foundation for these systems. For example, practitioners may focus on promoting the formation of soil seed banks for species in the wild. Alternatively, managers may strive to preserve all or most of the genetic diversity of a target plant using a seed genebank. Therefore, intimate knowledge of seed biology is imperative regardless of the preservation system. Recent advances provide clarity on the germination ecology of many species and the relationship of this to plant preservation in the field. Similarly, new research reveals some of the biochemical, biophysical, genetic, and physiological aspects underpinning the ability of seeds to tolerate (or be sensitive to) stresses, such as desiccation or aging, that are required for or result from storage of seeds in genebanks. Nevertheless, despite this considerable progress, we require novel seed biology insights as we work towards creating a unifying plant preservation framework. Many open questions exist, for example: How will a changing climate influence dormancy and germination dynamics for seeds in the wild or seeds placed again in the wild after storage? Why do seeds of different species vary in their ability to tolerate imposed or induced stresses associated with preservation? And can we identify seed traits that enhance our ability to preserve plant species? The aim of this Special Issue is to join papers providing new findings and views related to the biochemistry, biophysics, ecology, genetics, and physiology of seed biology with the potential to enhance plant preservation.

Dr. Héctor E. Pérez
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • abiotic stress
  • conservation
  • dormancy
  • ecophysiology
  • ex situ
  • germination
  • germplasm
  • in situ
  • seed development
  • seed functional traits
  • seed quality

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Thermal Requirements Underpinning Germination Allude to Risk of Species Decline from Climate Warming
Plants 2020, 9(6), 796; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9060796 - 25 Jun 2020
Abstract
The storage of seeds is a commonly used means of preserving plant genetic diversity in the face of rising threats such as climate change. Here, the findings of research from the past decade into thermal requirements for germination are synthesised for more than [...] Read more.
The storage of seeds is a commonly used means of preserving plant genetic diversity in the face of rising threats such as climate change. Here, the findings of research from the past decade into thermal requirements for germination are synthesised for more than 100 plant species from southern Western Australia. This global biodiversity hotspot is predicted to suffer major plant collapse under forecast climate change. A temperature gradient plate was used to assess the thermal requirements underpinning seed germination in both commonly occurring and geographically restricted species. The results suggest that the local climate of the seed source sites does not drive seed responses, neither is it indicative of temperatures for optimal germination. The low diurnal phase of the temperature regime provided the most significant impact on germination timing. Several species germinated optimally at mean temperatures below or close to current wet quarter temperatures, and more than 40% of species were likely to be impacted in the future, with germination occurring under supra-optimal temperature conditions. This research highlights both species vulnerability and resilience to a warming climate during the regeneration phase of the life cycle and provides vital information for those aiming to manage, conserve and restore this regional flora. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Comparative Seed Morphology of Tropical and Temperate Orchid Species with Different Growth Habits
Plants 2020, 9(2), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9020161 - 29 Jan 2020
Abstract
Seed morphology underpins many critical biological and ecological processes, such as seed dormancy and germination, dispersal, and persistence. It is also a valuable taxonomic trait that can provide information about plant evolution and adaptations to different ecological niches. This study characterised and compared [...] Read more.
Seed morphology underpins many critical biological and ecological processes, such as seed dormancy and germination, dispersal, and persistence. It is also a valuable taxonomic trait that can provide information about plant evolution and adaptations to different ecological niches. This study characterised and compared various seed morphological traits, i.e., seed and pod shape, seed colour and size, embryo size, and air volume for six orchid species; and explored whether taxonomy, biogeographical origin, or growth habit are important determinants of seed morphology. We investigated this on two tropical epiphytic orchid species from Indonesia (Dendrobium strebloceras and D. lineale), and four temperate species from New Zealand, terrestrial Gastrodia cunnninghamii, Pterostylis banksii and Thelymitra nervosa, and epiphytic D. cunninghamii. Our results show some similarities among related species in their pod shape and colour, and seed colouration. All the species studied have scobiform or fusiform seeds and prolate-spheroid embryos. Specifically, D. strebloceras, G. cunninghamii, and P. banksii have an elongated seed shape, while T. nervosa has truncated seeds. Interestingly, we observed high variability in the micro-morphological seed characteristics of these orchid species, unrelated to their taxonomy, biogeographical origin, or growth habit, suggesting different ecological adaptations possibly reflecting their modes of dispersal. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Lipid Thermal Fingerprints of Long-term Stored Seeds of Brassicaceae
Plants 2019, 8(10), 414; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8100414 - 14 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Thermal fingerprints for seeds of 20 crop wild relatives of Brassicaceae stored for 8 to 44 years at the Plant Germplasm Bank—Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank—were generated using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and analyzed in [...] Read more.
Thermal fingerprints for seeds of 20 crop wild relatives of Brassicaceae stored for 8 to 44 years at the Plant Germplasm Bank—Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank—were generated using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and analyzed in relation to storage stability. Relatively poor storing oily seeds at −20 °C tended to have lipids with crystallization and melting transitions spread over a wide temperature range (c. 40 °C) that spanned the storage temperature, plus a melting end temperature of around 15 °C. We postulated that in dry storage, the variable longevity in Brassicaceae seeds could be associated with the presence of a metastable lipid phase at the temperature at which they are being stored. Consistent with that, when high-quality seed samples of various species were assessed after banking at −5 to −10 °C for c. 40 years, melting end temperatures were observed to be much lower (c. 0 to −30 °C) and multiple lipid phases did not occur at the storage temperature. We conclude that multiple features of the seed lipid thermal fingerprint could be used as biophysical markers to predict potential poor performance of oily seeds during long-term, decadal storage. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Late Embryogenesis Abundant Protein–Client Protein Interactions
Plants 2020, 9(7), 814; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9070814 - 29 Jun 2020
Abstract
The intrinsically disordered proteins belonging to the LATE EMBRYOGENESIS ABUNDANT protein (LEAP) family have been ascribed a protective function over an array of intracellular components. We focus on how LEAPs may protect a stress-susceptible proteome. These examples include instances of LEAPs providing a [...] Read more.
The intrinsically disordered proteins belonging to the LATE EMBRYOGENESIS ABUNDANT protein (LEAP) family have been ascribed a protective function over an array of intracellular components. We focus on how LEAPs may protect a stress-susceptible proteome. These examples include instances of LEAPs providing a shield molecule function, possibly by instigating liquid-liquid phase separations. Some LEAPs bind directly to their client proteins, exerting a holdase-type chaperonin function. Finally, instances of LEAP–client protein interactions have been documented, where the LEAP modulates (interferes with) the function of the client protein, acting as a surreptitious rheostat of cellular homeostasis. From the examples identified to date, it is apparent that client protein modulation also serves to mitigate stress. While some LEAPs can physically bind and protect client proteins, some apparently bind to assist the degradation of the client proteins with which they associate. Documented instances of LEAP–client protein binding, even in the absence of stress, brings to the fore the necessity of identifying how the LEAPs are degraded post-stress to render them innocuous, a first step in understanding how the cell regulates their abundance. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Breaking Seed Dormancy during Dry Storage: A Useful Tool or Major Problem for Successful Restoration via Direct Seeding?
Plants 2020, 9(5), 636; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9050636 - 16 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
To facilitate the restoration of disturbed vegetation, seeds of wild species are collected and held in dry storage, but often there is a shortage of seeds for this purpose. Thus, much research effort is expended to maximize the use of the available seeds [...] Read more.
To facilitate the restoration of disturbed vegetation, seeds of wild species are collected and held in dry storage, but often there is a shortage of seeds for this purpose. Thus, much research effort is expended to maximize the use of the available seeds and to ensure that they are nondormant when sown. Sowing nondormant (versus dormant) seeds in the field should increase the success of the restoration. Of the various treatments available to break seed dormancy, afterripening, that is, dormancy break during dry storage, is the most cost-effective. Seeds that can undergo afterripening have nondeep physiological dormancy, and this includes members of common families such as Asteraceae and Poaceae. In this review, we consider differences between species in terms of seed moisture content, temperature and time required for afterripening and discuss the conditions in which afterripening is rapid but could lead to seed aging and death if storage is too long. Attention is given to the induction of secondary dormancy in seeds that have become nondormant via afterripening and to the biochemical and molecular changes occurring in seeds during dry storage. Some recommendations are made for managing afterripening so that seeds are nondormant at the time for sowing. The most important recommendation probably is that germination responses of the seeds need to be monitored for germinability/viability during the storage period. Full article
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