Diaspore structure has been hypothesised to play a role in seed viability and/or germination of recalcitrant seeds, especially for Swartzia langsdorffii. Thus, this work aims to (i) investigate the in situ contribution of pericarp and aril on seed viability and germination, and (ii) identify morphoanatomical traits of S. langsdorffii diaspores that allow its desiccation‐sensitive seeds to remain viable. The role of the pericarp and aril in seed survival and germination was investigated by placing the whole fruit, whole seeds (arillate seed) and bare seeds (without aril) in soil in the forest understorey, assessing germination, emergence, dead, firm and predated seeds, and water content of pericarps, arils and seeds. Correlation analysis was performed between environmental variables and physiological parameters. Histochemical features of diaspores were also investigated. Pericarp water content fell after several months, while the aril maintained its water content. Seeds did not lose water even without the presence of the pericarp and aril. However, presence of the pericarp promoted seed water content, viability and germination long after dispersal. The embryo had a thickened outer periclinal cell wall. Pericarp and aril are not essential to prevent water loss in seeds, but do help to retain seed moisture, favouring viability maintenance and promoting germination during the rainy season. Morphoanatomical features of seeds are suggested as main factors that reduce water loss. Survival of these desiccation‐sensitive seeds upon dispersal during the dry season appears to be facilitated by multiple diaspore features that prevent viability loss.
Plant Biology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;
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