Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-hfldf Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-23T10:52:53.764Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Seed enhancement technologies to improve germination and emergence of Australian native Poaceae

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2020

Fernanda Caro Beveridge*
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD4343, Australia
Alwyn Williams
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD4343, Australia
Steve W. Adkins
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD4343, Australia
Author for Correspondence: Fernanda Caro Beveridge, E-mail:


Using seeds to restore natural ecosystems has a greater chance of success if the seeds used are ready to germinate given appropriate environmental conditions. For Australian native Poaceae species, seed quality and dormancy can impose constraints on restoration success. In this study, germination biology of three Australian native Poaceae species, such as Cymbopogon refractus, Capillipedium spicigerum and Bothriochloa bladhii, was investigated. The seeds were exposed to different germination-enhancing chemicals (GECs, namely smoke water (SW), potassium nitrate (KNO3) or a combination (SW + KNO3)) and treated with three different seed enhancement technologies (SETs, namely seed priming, seed coating or seed cookies) then sown into two contrasting soil types (sodosol or black vertisol). Laboratory germination percentages achieved were <50% for all species, limited by dormant seeds. Incorporating GECs together with seed priming or seed coating treatment significantly increased seedling emergence rates and promoted earlier emergence as compared to the untreated control. For C. refractus and C. spicigerum, priming and/or coating with KNO3 + SW had the highest cumulative emergence. For B. bladhii, total seedling emergence was the highest (36% in both soils) for primed seeds with KNO3. Seedling emergence from seed cookies was low in all three species (<15%). Generally, soil type did not influence emergence rates for either GEC or SET. Understanding the environmental requirements needed for seed germination, together with an appropriate pre-treatment before sowing, can speed up seedling emergence and increase total emergence when using native Poaceae species for seed-based restoration.

Research Paper
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Adkins, SW, Simpson, GM and Naylor, JM (1984) The physiological basis of seed dormancy in Avena fatua III. Action of nitrogenous compounds. Physiologia Plantarum 60, 227233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Adkins, SW, Bellairs, SM and Loch, DS (2002) Seed dormancy mechanisms in warm season grass species. Euphytica 126, 1320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alboresi, A, Gestin, C, Leydecker, MT, Bedu, M, Meyer, C and Truong, HN (2005) Nitrate, a signal relieving seed dormancy in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell & Enviornment 28, 500512.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Baskin, CC and Baskin, JM (2014) Seeds: ecology, biogeography, and evolution of dormancy and germination (2nd edn). London, Academic Press.Google Scholar
Baskin, JM and Baskin, CC (2004) A classification system for seed dormancy. Seed Science Research 14, 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bell, DT (1999) The process of germination in Australian species. Australian Journal of Botany 47, 475517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bellairs, SM and Caswell, MJ (2016) Seed viability of native grasses is important when revegetating native wildlife habitat. Northern Territory Naturalist 27, 3646.Google Scholar
Bewley, JD, Bradford, KJB, Hilhorst, HWM and Nonogaki, H (2013) Seeds: physiology of development, germination and dormancy (3rd edn). New York, Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bradbeer, J (2013) Seed dormancy and germination. New York, Blackie, Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
Brown, N and Van Staden, J (1997) Smoke as a germination cue: a review. Plant Growth Regulation 22, 115124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bruggink, GT (2005) Flower seed priming, pregermination, pelleting and coating, pp. 249262 in Mc Donald, MB and Kwong, FY (Eds) Flower seeds: biology and technology, Wallington, Oxfordshire, CABI Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Commander, LE, Merritt, D, Rokich, D and Dixon, K (2009) Seed biology of Australian arid zone species: germination of 18 species used for rehabilitation. Journal of Arid Environments 73, 617625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Commander, LE, Golos, PJ, Miller, BP and Merritt, DJ (2017) Seed germination traits of desert perennials. Plant Ecology 218, 10771091.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dixon, KW, Roche, S and Pate, JS (1995) The promotive effect of smoke derived from burnt native vegetation on seed germination of Western Australian plants. Oecologia 101, 185192.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Erickson, TE, Shackelford, N, Dixon, KW, Turner, SR and Merritt, DJ (2016) Overcoming physiological dormancy in seeds of Triodia (Poaceae) to improve restoration in the arid zone. Restoration Ecology 24, S64S76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Erickson, TE, Muñoz-Rojas, M, Kildisheva, OA, Stokes, BA, White, SA, Heyes, JL, Dalziell, EL, Lewandrowski, W, James, JJ and Madsen, MD (2017) Benefits of adopting seed-based technologies for rehabilitation in the mining sector: a Pilbara perspective. Australian Journal of Botany 65, 646660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Erickson, T, Munoz-Rojas, M, Guzzomi, A, Masarei, M, Ling, E, Bateman, A, Kildisheva, OA, Ritchie, A, Turner, S, Parsons, B, Chester, P, Webster, T, Wishart, S, James, JJ, Madsen, MD, Abella, SR and Merritt, DJ (2019) A case study of seed-use technology development for Pilbara mine site rehabilitation, pp. 679692 in Fourie, AB and Tibbett, M (Eds) Proceedings of the 13th international conference on mine closure, Perth, Western Australia.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Farley, GJ, Bellairs, SM and Adkins, SW (2013) Germination of selected Australian native grass species, with potential for minesite rehabilitation. Australian Journal of Botany 61, 283290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fenner, M and Thompson, K (2005) The ecology of seeds. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gibson-Roy, P and Delpratt, J (2006) Seed resources for temperate native grassland restoration. Australasian Plant Conservation: Journal of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation 15, 23.Google Scholar
Gornish, E, Arnold, H and Fehmi, J (2019) Review of seed pelletizing strategies for arid land restoration. Restoration Ecology 27, 12061211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Groves, R, Hagon, M and Ramakrishnan, P (1982) Dormancy and germination of seed of eight populations of Themeda australis. Australian Journal of Botany 30, 373386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoose, BW, Call, RS, Bates, TH, Anderson, RM, Roundy, BA and Madsen, MD (2019) Seed conglomeration: a disruptive innovation to address restoration challenges associated with small-seeded species. Restoration Ecology 27, 959965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hopkins, AJ, Koch, JM and Ward, AC. (2000) Multiple treatments to improve the germination of selected recalcitrant plant species from the northern Jarrah forest of western Australia, pp. 123132 in Asher, CJ and Bell, LC (Eds), Proceedings of the third Australian workshop on native seed biology for revegetation workshop, 17–18 May 1999, Perth, Western Australia.Google Scholar
James, JJ, Svejcar, TJ and Rinella, MJ (2011) Demographic processes limiting seedling recruitment in arid grassland restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology 48, 961969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jiménez-Alfaro, B, Silveira, FA, Fidelis, A, Poschlod, P and Commander, LE (2016) Seed germination traits can contribute better to plant community ecology. Journal of Vegetation Science 27, 637645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kildisheva, OA, Erickson, TE, Merritt, DJ and Dixon, KW (2016) Setting the scene for dryland recovery: an overview and key findings from a workshop targeting seed-based restoration. Restoration Ecology 24, S36S42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Larson, JE, Sheley, RL, Hardegree, SP, Doescher, PS and James, JJ (2015) Seed and seedling traits affecting critical life stage transitions and recruitment outcomes in dryland grasses. Journal of Applied Ecology 52, 199209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Light, M, Gardner, M, Jäger, A and Van Staden, J (2002) Dual regulation of seed germination by smoke solutions. Plant Growth Regulation 37, 135141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lodge, G and Harden, S (2009) Effects of depth and time of sowing and over-wintering on tropical perennial grass seedling emergence in northern New south wales. Crop and Pasture Science 60, 954962.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Long, RL, Stevens, JC, Griffiths, EM, Adamek, M, Gorecki, MJ, Powles, SB and Merritt, DJ (2011) Seeds of Brassicaceae weeds have an inherent or inducible response to the germination stimulant karrikinolide. Annals of Botany 108, 933944.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Madsen, MD, Davies, KW, Williams, CJ and Svejcar, TJ (2012a) Agglomerating seeds to enhance native seedling emergence and growth. Journal of Applied Ecology 49, 431438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Madsen, MD, Kostka, SJ, Inouye, AL and Zvirzdin, DL (2012b) Postfire restoration of soil hydrology and wildland vegetation using surfactant seed coating technology. Rangeland Ecology & Management 65, 253259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Madsen, MD, Davies, KW, Boyd, CS, Kerby, JD, Carter, DL and Svejcar, TJ. (2013) Restoring North America's sagebrush steppe ecosystem using seed enhancement technologies, pp. 293401 in Michalk, D, Millar, G, Badgery, W and Broadfoot, K (Eds), Proceedings of the 22nd international grassland congress: revitalising grasslands to sustain our communities, New South Wales Department of Primary Industry, Sydney.Google Scholar
Madsen, MD, Davies, KW, Boyd, CS, Kerby, JD and Svejcar, TJ (2016) Emerging seed enhancement technologies for overcoming barriers to restoration. Restoration Ecology 24, S77S84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Madsen, MD, Petersen, S and Taylor, AG (2017) Seed coating compositions and methods for applying soil surfactants to water-repellent soil. US Patent 9,554,502 B2.Google Scholar
Madsen, MD, Svejcar, L, Radke, J and Hulet, A (2018) Inducing rapid seed germination of native cool season grasses with solid matrix priming and seed extrusion technology. PLos ONE 13, 114.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Merino-Martín, L, Courtauld, C, Commander, L, Turner, S, Lewandrowski, W and Stevens, J (2017) Interactions between seed functional traits and burial depth regulate germination and seedling emergence under water stress in species from semi–arid environments. Journal of Arid Environments 147, 2533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Merrit, D (2006) Seed storage and testing, pp. 5360 in Sweedman, L and Merritt, D (Eds) Australian seeds: a guide to their collection, identification and biology, Collingwood, Victoria, CSIRO Publishing.Google Scholar
Merritt, DJ and Dixon, KW (2011) Restoration seed banks—a matter of scale. Science 332, 424425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Merritt, D and Rokich, D (2006) Seed biology and ecology, pp. 1924 in Sweedman, L and Merritt, D (Eds) Australian seeds: a guide to their collection, identification and biology, Collingwood, Victoria, CSIRO Publishing.Google Scholar
Merritt, D, Turner, S, Clarke, S and Dixon, K (2007) Seed dormancy and germination stimulation syndromes for Australian temperate species. Australian Journal of Botany 55, 336344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Merritt, DJ, Golos, PJ and Erickson, TE (2016) A systematic approach to seed management for restoration, pp. 3542 in Erickson, T, Barrett, R, Merritt, D and Dixon, K (Eds) Pilbara seed atlas and field guide: plant restoration in Australia's arid northwest, Dickson, Victoria, CSIRO Publishing.Google Scholar
Milberg, P, Andersson, L and Thompson, K (2000) Large-seeded species are less dependent on light for germination than small-seeded ones. Seed Science Research 10, 99104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pons, TL (2000) Seed responses to light, pp. 237260 in Fenner, M (Ed.) Seeds: the ecology of regeneration in plant communities, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, CABI Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
R Core Team (2019) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R foundation for statistical computing Vienna, Austria. Scholar
Read, TR and Bellairs, SM (1999) Smoke affects the germination of native grasses of New south wales. Australian Journal of Botany 47, 563576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Richardson, WC, Badrakh, T, Roundy, BA, Aanderud, ZT, Petersen, SL, Allen, PS, Whitaker, DR and Madsen, MD (2019) Influence of an abscisic acid (ABA) seed coating on seed germination rate and timing of bluebunch wheatgrass. Ecology and Evolution 9, 74387447.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Roche, S (1994) Smoke-a new process for germinating Australian plants. Australian Horticulture 92, 4647.Google Scholar
Taylor, A, Allen, P, Bennett, M, Bradford, K, Burris, J and Misra, M (1998) Seed enhancements. Seed Science Research 8, 245256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Taylor, JB, Cass, KL, Armond, DN, Madsen, MD, Pearson, DE and St. Clair, SB (2020) Deterring rodent seed-predation using seed-coating technologies. Restoration Ecology, rec. 13158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Turner, S and Merritt, D (2009) Seed germination and dormancy, pp. 87108 in Offord, CA and Meagher, PF (Eds) Plant germplasm conservation in Australia: strategies and guidelines for developing, managing and utilising ex situ collections, Canberra, Australian Network for Plant Conservation.Google Scholar
Turner, SR, Pearce, B, Rokich, DP, Dunn, RR, Merritt, DJ, Majer, JD and Dixon, KW (2006) Influence of polymer seed coatings, soil raking, and time of sowing on seedling performance in post-mining restoration. Restoration Ecology 14, 267277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vening, GS, Guja, LK, Spooner, PG and Price, JN (2018) Seed dormancy and germination of three grassy woodland forbs required for diverse restoration. Australian Journal of Botany 65, 625637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wagner, M, Pywell, RF, Knopp, T, Bullock, JM and Heard, MS (2011) The germination niches of grassland species targeted for restoration: effects of seed pre-treatments. Seed Science Research 21, 117131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, Y, Jiang, GQ, Han, YN and Liu, MM (2013) Effects of salt, alkali and salt-alkali mixed stresses on seed germination of the halophyte Salsola ferganica (Chenopodiaceae). Acta Ecologica Sinica 33, 354360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Whalley, R, Friend, D, Sanford, P and Mitchell, M (2005) Evaluation of native and introduced grasses for low-input pastures in temperate Australia: rationale and scope. The Rangeland Journal 27, 19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Whalley, R, Chivers, IH and Waters, CM (2013) Revegetation with Australian native grasses–a reassessment of the importance of using local provenances. The Rangeland Journal 35, 155166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar