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types of weed seed dormancy

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Date and time: Tue, 10 Aug 2021 13:06:47 GMT

Germinability: the capacity of an seed, bud or spore to germinate under some set of conditions.

Vivipary: germinating while still attached to the parent plant.
Viviparous: producing offspring from within the body of the parent.

The Traditional Seed Dormancy Model

Somatic polymorphism and innate dormancy

Dormancy: a state in which viable seeds, spores or buds fail to germinate under conditions favorable for germination and vegetative growth.

What this definition of dormancy obscures is what important phenomena are hidden from our view, it tells us nothing about what is happening in that seed, or its potential to germinate, its a "black box" definition. Many different seed phenomena, potentially caused by a multitude of different mechanisms, all fall under this vague term What we call dormant is a range of germinability states, from those right on the edge of germination and those profoundly dormant..

The movement of the weed seeds within the soil profiles as a consequence of tillage creates variations in the dormancy of seeds (Ghersa et al., 1992). There is evidence that weed species' timing and duration of emergence varies (Stoller and Wax, 1973; Egley and Williams, 1991), suggesting that timing of tillage interferes with the timing of species germination and acts as an assembly filter of weed communities (Smith, 2006). The results of Crawley (2004) revealed that the frequency of Papaver dubium (L.), A. thaliana, and Viola arvensis (Murray) was increased by 62.5, 66.5, and 72%, respectively, due to fall cultivation. In the same study, spring cultivation increased the frequency of C. album, Bromus hordeaceus (L.), and Galinsoga parviflora (Cav.) by 48, 88, and 92.5 %. Spring tillage acts as a filter on initial community assembly by hindering the establishment of later-emerging forbs, winter annuals, C3 grasses, and species with biennial and perennial life cycles, whereas fall tillage prevents the establishment of early-emerging spring annual forbs and C4 grasses. Species adapted to emerge earlier are therefore able to exploit the high availability of soil resources and be more competitive as compared to species that usually emerge later in the growing season when soil resource availability is restricted at a significant point (Davis et al., 2000).

The reaction of seeds to light signals is dependent on phytochromes that consist of a group of proteins acting as sensors to changes in light conditions. Cancellation of dormancy by light is mediated by the phytochromes. All phytochromes have two mutually photoconvertible forms: Pfr (considered the active form) with maximum absorption at 730 nm and Pr with maximum absorption at 660 nm. The photoconversion of phytochrome in the red light (R)-absorbing form (Pr) to the far red light (FR)-absorbing form (Pfr), has been identified as part of the germination induction mechanism in many plant species (Gallagher and Cardina, 1998). Germination can be induced by Pfr/P as low as 10 −4 and is usually saturated by <0.03 Pfr/Pr (Benech-Arnold et al., 2000). The quality of light received by seeds may be more important than the quantity. There is evidence that Far-red light (FR, about 735 nm) can inhibit germination (Ballaré et al., 1992). Regarding the way weed emergence is influenced by light, given that FR or the ratio of FR to red light (R, about 645 nm) increases as plant canopies develop and solar elevation decreases with time after the summer period, emergence of sensitive species should be inhibited during the summer period. However, the practical significance of FR exposure for emergence in field settings is not well-known (Forcella et al., 2000).

The seed germination response to the soil water potential of wild plants could be correlated with the soil water status in their natural habitats (Evans and Etherington, 1990). The models which aim to predict weed germination and emergence need to record seed germination in a wide range of water potentials. Seeds of various weed species require different values of water potential in order to germinate. For instance, the base water potential Ψb for A. myosuroides was estimated at −1.53 (MPa) in the study of Colbach et al. (2002b) whereas the corresponding value recorded for Ambrosia artemisiifolia (L.) was −0.8 (MPa) as observed by other scientists (Shrestha et al., 1999). The value of minimum water potential for the germination of S. viridis seeds was −0.7 (MPa) (Masin et al., 2005) whereas the corresponding value recorded for Stellaria media (L.) Villars was −1.13 (MPa) (Grundy et al., 2000). Dorsainvil et al. (2005) revealed that the base water potential for germination for Sinapis alba (L.) was at −1 (MPa). Regarding weed emergence, although seeds of many species can germinate in a wide range of water potentials, once germination has occurred the emerged seedlings are sensitive to dehydration, and irreversible cellular damage may occur (Evans and Etherington, 1991). False seedbed is a technique that aims to deplete weed seed banks by eliminating the emerged weed seedlings. Thus, it is crucial to have knowledge about water demands for germination for the dominant weed species of the agricultural area where a false seedbed is planned to be formed. If these demands are not met, then they can be secured via adequate irrigation in the meantime between seedbed preparation and crop sowing.


There is evidence showing that other environmental factors, such as nitrates and gases, can also regulate seed bank dormancy (Bewley and Black, 1982; Benech-Arnold et al., 2000). For instance, germination of Sysimbrium offcinale (L.) Scop. is dependent on the simultaneous presence of light and nitrates (Hilhorst and Karssen, 1988), while in the case of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh., nitrates modify light-induced germination to some degree (Derkx and Karssen, 1994). The seeds of summer annual species, S.officinale, showed increased sensitivity to nitrates and lost dormancy during the winter season (Hilhorst, 1990). Regarding the winter annual S. arvensis, Goudey et al. (1988) recorded maximal germination frequencies when NO 3 – content ranged from 0.3 to 4.4 nmol seed −1 for applied NO 3 – concentrations between 2.5 and 20 mol m −3 . In the same study germination was significantly lower in seeds containing more than 5 nmol NO 3 – . Although the mechanisms by which nitrates stimulate dormancy loss remain under investigation, they maybe act somewhere at the cell membrane environment (Karssen and Hilhorst, 1992). The evaluation of the effects of nitrates in regulating weed seeds' germination and weed emergence is an area of interest for weed scientists and research needs to be carried out to get a better knowledge regarding this issue. There is also evidence that the range of pH values can promote germination of important weed species. For instance, Pierce et al. (1999) noticed that seed germination of D. sanguinalis decreased with increasing pH when soil was amended with MgCO3, whereas maximum root dry weights occurred at ranges from pH 5.3–5.8. A pH range of 5–10 did not influence seed germination of E. indica (Chauhan and Johnson, 2008). Cyperus esculentus (L.) germination rate at pH 3 was 14% as compared to 47% at pH 7, while germination of Sida spinosa (L.) was highest at pH 9 (Singh and Singh, 2009). In the experiment by (Lu et al., 2006) Eupatorium adenophorum (Spreng.) germinated in a narrow range of pH (5–7) whereas other researchers recorded a 19–36% germination rate for Conyza canadensis (L.) Cronquist. over a pH range from 4 to 10 (Nandula et al., 2006). As a consequence, another area available for research is the role of soil pH on seed germination and weed emergence especially in fields where false seedbed technique has been planned to be applied.

Important parameters that influence weed seeds' germination and seedlings' emergence can affect the efficacy of false seedbed as weed management practice. These parameters consist of environmental factors such as soil temperature, soil water potential, exposure to light, fluctuating temperatures, nitrates concentration, soil pH, and the gaseous environment of the soil. Soil temperature and soil water potential can exert a great influence on weed diversity of a cultivated area. Estimating minimum soil temperatures and values of water potential for germination for the dominant weed species of a cultivated area can give researchers the ability to predict weed infestation in a field and also the timing of weed emergence. Predicting weed emergence can answer the question of how much time weed control and crop sowing should be delayed in a specific agricultural area where false seedbed technique is about to be applied. As a result, if it was possible in the future to use environmental factors to make such predictions, this could maximize the efficacy of false seedbed technique as weed management practice. Timing, depth, and type of tillage are important factors affecting weed emergence and, subsequently, the efficacy of false seedbed. The importance of shallow tillage as a weed control method in the false seedbed technique has also been highlighted. In general, estimating the effects of environmental factors and tillage operations on weed emergence can lead to the development of successful weed management practices. Further research is needed to understand the parameters that influence weed emergence in order to optimize eco-friendly management practices such as false seedbeds in different soil and climatic conditions.

Consequently, it is preferable to focus on depleting the seed stock in the soil through time rather than viewing weeds just as an annual threat to agricultural production (Jones and Medd, 2000). This approach is reinforced not only by ecological (Davis et al., 2003) but also by economic simulation models (Jones and Medd, 2000). False seedbed technique is a method providing weed seed bank depletion. The principle of flushing out germinable weed seeds before crop sowing forms the basis of the false seedbed technique in which soil cultivation may take place days or weeks before cropping (Johnson and Mullinix, 1995). Germination of weed seeds is stimulated through soil cultivation (Caldwell and Mohler, 2001). Irrigation is suggested to provide the adequate soil moisture required for sufficient weed emergence. In the case of false seedbed, emerged weeds are controlled by shallow tillage operations (Merfield, 2013). Control of weeds and crop establishment should be delayed until the main flush of emergence has passed in order to deplete the seedbank in the surface layer of soil and reduce subsequent weed emergence (Bond and Grundy, 2001).

The levels of carbon dioxide in soil air ranges between 0.5 and 1% (Karssen, 1980a,b). When soils are flooded, the ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen typically increases and can have detrimental effects on seed germination and seedling emergence. In very early studies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the range of 0.5 and 1% have been reported to have a dormancy breaking effect in seeds of Trifolium subterraneum (L.) and Trigonella ornithopoides (L.) Lam. & DC. (Ballard, 1958, 1967). Elevated carbon dioxide concentrations combined with low oxygen concentrations may further strengthen the signal to germinate and promote germination below the surface during periods of high soil moisture content (Yoshioka et al., 1998), and this hypothesis was supported by the results of (Boyd and Van Acker, 2004). Ethylene, a gas with a well-known role as a growth regulator, is also present in the soil environment, with its usual value of the pressure ranging between 0.05 and 1.2 MPa (Corbineau and Côme, 1995). At these concentrations, it has break-dormancy effects on seeds of T. subterraneum (Esashi and Leopold, 1969), P. oleracea, C. album, and A. retroflexus (Taylorson, 1979). According to Katoh and Esashi (1975), at low concentrations in the soil ethylene promotes germination in Xanthium pennsylvanicum (L.) and similar observations have been made regarding A.retroflexus (Schönbeck and Egley, 1981a,b). However, these are results of old studies and it should be noted that a newer study stated that the role of ethylene in governing seed germination and seedling emergence cannot be clearly explained (Baskin and Baskin, 1998). The findings of another study where strains of a bacterium were evaluated as stimulators of emergence for parasite weeds belonging to Striga spp. were interesting. The bacterium Pseudomonas syringae (Van Hall) pathovar glycinea synthesizes relatively large amounts of ethylene. In the study of Berner et al. (1999) strains of P. syringae pv. glycinea had a stimulatory effect on the germination of seeds of the parasite weeds Striga aspera (Willd.) Benth. and Striga gesnerioides (Willd.) Vatke. Consequently, whether oxygen, carbon dioxide, and ethylene influences weed seeds' germination and seedlings emergence is not yet clarified since variation has been reported among gases' concentrations and various weed species. Thus, the role of the gaseous environment of the soil in seed germination and weed emergence needs to be further explained.