Research Publication Title

Assessing the effect of temperature on seed dormancy and germination rates of native plants from Georgia

Major

Environmental science

Faculty Mentor

Christine Mutiti Samuel Mutiti

Keywords

dormancy, germination, seeds, temperature, germination rates

Abstract

Seeds of many plants adapted to temperate regions will not germinate until they have experienced a chilling period. Seed dormancy is an inactive period during a plant’s growth that is chemically induced and is often required for a certain amount of time and/or environmental conditions before the plant’s life cycle can resume. It is important to understand how changes in environmental factors such as temperature that may be required to break seed dormancy are likely to affect seed germination rates. With the predicted changes in average global temperatures, such knowledge can be used to predict the likely impact on native plant communities. The goal of this study is to assess the effect of different temperature treatments on seed germination rates of plant species native to Georgia. Seeds were taken from Sapelo Island, Georgia in August 2018 and brought back to Georgia College where experimentation began and is expected to conclude in January 2019. The experimental treatments the seeds are being exposed to include: 1) in the fridge at 35oF to simulate winter conditions; 2) in the fridge at 35oF then heated in the oven at 212 oF to simulate a fire occurrence before germination; 3) room temperature then oven heated at 212 oF to simulate warmer temperatures and a fire event before germination; 4) room temperature throughout. Following each treatment, seeds will be exposed to favorable conditions required for germination and continuously monitored for germination. Rate of germination for each treatment will be compared using statistical analysis to determine if there is a significant difference between the treatments. We expect the groups to differ in their germination rates. If temperature differences affect germination rates, such effects would shift plant communities in favor of species whose germination rates are either not affected or that increase with increase in temperature.

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Assessing the effect of temperature on seed dormancy and germination rates of native plants from Georgia

Seeds of many plants adapted to temperate regions will not germinate until they have experienced a chilling period. Seed dormancy is an inactive period during a plant’s growth that is chemically induced and is often required for a certain amount of time and/or environmental conditions before the plant’s life cycle can resume. It is important to understand how changes in environmental factors such as temperature that may be required to break seed dormancy are likely to affect seed germination rates. With the predicted changes in average global temperatures, such knowledge can be used to predict the likely impact on native plant communities. The goal of this study is to assess the effect of different temperature treatments on seed germination rates of plant species native to Georgia. Seeds were taken from Sapelo Island, Georgia in August 2018 and brought back to Georgia College where experimentation began and is expected to conclude in January 2019. The experimental treatments the seeds are being exposed to include: 1) in the fridge at 35oF to simulate winter conditions; 2) in the fridge at 35oF then heated in the oven at 212 oF to simulate a fire occurrence before germination; 3) room temperature then oven heated at 212 oF to simulate warmer temperatures and a fire event before germination; 4) room temperature throughout. Following each treatment, seeds will be exposed to favorable conditions required for germination and continuously monitored for germination. Rate of germination for each treatment will be compared using statistical analysis to determine if there is a significant difference between the treatments. We expect the groups to differ in their germination rates. If temperature differences affect germination rates, such effects would shift plant communities in favor of species whose germination rates are either not affected or that increase with increase in temperature.