Seed dormancy and germination of the rare, high elevation Balkan endemic Cerastium dinaricum (Caryophyllaceae)

Research paper by Živa Fišer Pečnikar, Manica Balant, Peter Glasnović, Boštjan Surina

Indexed on: 07 Sep '18Published on: 06 Sep '18Published in: Biologia


Short or long-term ex situ conservation is becoming increasingly important in conservation of plants in today’s changing environments. One of the important steps in ex situ conservation is the collection and storage of seeds and the consequent establishment of seed germination protocols. Cerastium dinaricum (Caryophyllaceae) is an endemic, high elevation and rare species of European conservation concern. Because of its severely fragmented distribution along the Dinaric Alps, the populations are likely to undergo further shrinkage in the future, which addresses the need of a long-term effective conservation management. From the potential ex situ population management perspective, we focused our study on germination ecology of C. dinaricum. The study revealed that temperature considerably affected the germination of seeds, which germinate better at 20 °C rather than 10 °C. A period of cold-wet stratification also significantly improved the final germination percentage with more pronounced increase at 20 °C, while addition of GA3 increased the final germination percentage by breaking the dormancy of non-stratified seeds. Mechanical scarification did not improve germination; on the contrary, it resulted in the lowest germination success. Seeds grown in complete darkness germinated significantly better compared to control when they were exposed to cold-wet stratification. Contrary to previous studies on some alpine species, which germinate better when exposed to light, dark treatment resulted in the highest germination percentages with 70 and 90% germination success after 4 and 8 weeks of stratification, respectively.