Skip to main content Accessibility help

Reducing Persistent Seed Banks of Invasive Plants by Soil Solarization—The Case of Acacia saligna

  • O. Cohen (a1), J. Riov (a2), J. Katan (a2), A. Gamliel (a3) and P. Bar (Kutiel) (a1)...


An important factor in controlling invasive plant infestations is frequently the acceleration of the deterioration of their persistent seed bank, which is often associated with physical dormancy mechanisms. We hypothesized that breaking dormancy by heat would enhance the vulnerability of the nondormant seeds to hydrothermal stresses. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of soil solarization treatments (heating the soil by means of polyethylene mulching) on buried Australian Acacia seeds, with emphasis on Acacia saligna L. The results of three field experiments indicate that soil solarization treatments caused an almost complete eradication of buried seeds of Acacia saligna and two other Australian Acacia species, Acacia murrayana and Acacia sclerosperma. The killing mechanism of solarization was further studied in laboratory experiments. We observed two phases of the heat-induced deterioration of seed persistence: breaking the dormancy of the seeds and exposing the “weakened seeds” to lethal temperatures. From an ecological perspective of conservation, the present study shows for the first time the possible utilization of solar energy, by means of soil solarization, for reducing persistent seed banks of invasive woody plants.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author's E-mail:


Hide All
Bar (Kutiel), P., Cohen, O., and Shoshany, M. 2004. The invasion rate of the alien species Acacia saligna within the coastal sand dune habitats in Israel. Isr. J. Plant Sci. 52:115124.
Baskin, J. M., Baskin, C. C., and Li, X. 2000. Taxonomy, anatomy, and evolution of physical dormancy in seeds. Plant Species Biol. 15:139152.
Bibbery, R. B. 1947. Physiological studies of weed seed germination. Plant Physiol. 23:467484.
Bradbeer, J. W. 1988. Seed Dormancy and Germination. London Chapman and Hall. 146 p.
Chilliers, C. D., Esler, K. J., and Bucher, C. 2004. Effects of alien plant managements and fire on soil seed banks and regeneration in the Cape Peninsula National Park, South Africa. S. Afr. J. Bot. 70:705712.
Cohen, O. 2007. The Seed Bank Ecology of the Invasive Plant, Acacia saligna, Focusing on the Thermal Killing Effect. . Beer-Sheva, Israel Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
Cohen, O. and Rubin, B. 2007. Soil solarization and weed management. Pages 177200. in Upadhyaya, M. and Blackshaw, R. E. Non-Chemical Weed Management. Wallingford, UK CABI Publishing.
D'Antonio, C. and Meyerson, L. A. 2002. Exotic plant species as problems and solutions in ecological restoration: A synthesis. Restor. Ecol. 10:703713.
DeVay, J. E. and Katan, J. 1991. Mechanisms of pathogen control in solarized soil. Pages 87101. in Katan, J. and DeVay, J. E. Soil Solarization. Boca Raton, FL CRC Press.
Egley, G. H. 1983. Weed seed and seedling reductions by soil solarization with transparent polyethylene sheets. Weed Sci. 31:404409.
Egley, G. H. 1990. High-temperature effects on germination and survival of weed seeds in soil. Weed Sci. 38:429435.
Elmore, C. L. 1991. Weed control by soil solarization. Pages 6172. in Katan, J. and DeVay, J. E. Soil Solarization. Boca Raton, FL CRC Press.
Emms, J., Virtue, J. G., Preston, C., and Bellotti, W. D. 2005. Legumes in temperate Australia: a survey of naturalization and impact in natural ecosystems. Biol. Conserv. 125:323333.
Esler, K. J. and Boucher, C. 2004. The potential impact of alien woody plant invasions and their control on alien seed banks in the Western Cape, South Africa. in Proceedings of the 10th MEDECOS conference.
Farrell, T. P. and Ashton, D. H. 1978. Population studies on Acacia melanoxylon R. Br. I. Variation in seed and vegetative characteristics. Aust. J. Bot. 26:365379.
French, K. and Major, R. E. 2001. Effect of an exotic Acacia (Fabaceae) on ant assemblages in South African fynbos. Austral Ecol. 26:303310.
Gamliel, A. and Becker, E. 1996. A method for applying plastic mulch. Israeli Patent No. 118787; United States patent No. 6,270,291 B2.
Gamliel, A. and Stapleton, J. J. 1993a. Effect of chicken compost or ammonium phosphate and solarization on pathogen control, rhizosphere microorganisms, and lettuce growth. Plant Dis. 77:886891.
Gamliel, A. and Stapleton, J. J. 1993b. Characterization of antifungal volatile compounds evolved from solarized soil amended with cabbage residues. Phytopathology. 83:899905.
Hadjikyriakou, G. and Hadjisterkotis, E. 2002. The adventive plants of Cyprus with new records of invasive species. Z. Jagdwiss. 48:5971.
Haidar, M. A., Iskandarani, N., Sidahmed, R., and Baalbki, R. 1999. Response of field dodder (Cuscuta campestris) seeds to soil solarization and chicken manure. Crop Sci. 18:253258.
Halloin, J. M. 1983. Deterioration resistance mechanisms in seeds. Phytopathology. 73:335339.
Holm, L. G., Plucknett, D. L., Pancho, J. V., and Herberger, J. P. 1977. The World's Worst Weeds: Distribution and Biology. Honolulu, HI University of Hawaii. 624.
Holmes, P. M. 1988. Implications of alien Acacia seed bank viability and germination for clearing. S. Afr. J. Bot. 54:281284.
Holmes, P. M. 1989a. Effect of different clearing treatments on seed-bank dynamics of invasive Australian shrub, Acacia cyclops, in the Southwestern Cape, South Africa. For. Ecol. Manag. 28:3346.
Holmes, P. M. 1989b. Decay rates in buried alien Acacia seed populations of different density. S. Afr. J. Bot. 55:299303.
Holmes, P. M. 1990. Vertical movement of soil-stored seeds at a sandplain fynbos site. S. Afr. J. Bot. 1:811.
Holmes, P. M. 2002. Depth distribution and composition of seed-banks in alien-invaded and uninvaded fynbos vegetation. Austral Ecol. 27:110120.
Holmes, P. M. and Cowling, R. M. 1997a. Diversity of composition and guild relationships between soil-stored seed banks and mature vegetation in alien plant-invaded South African fynbus shrublands. Plant Ecol. 133:107122.
Holmes, P. M. and Cowling, R. M. 1997b. The effect of invasion by Acacia saligna on the guild structure and regeneration capabilities of South African fynbus shrublands. J. Appl. Ecol. 34:317332.
Holmes, P. M., Macdonald, I. A. W., and Juritz, J. J. 1987. Effects of clearing treatments on seed banks of the alien invasive shrubs Acacia saligna and Acacia Cyclops in the southern and south-western Cape, South Africa. J. Appl. Ecol. 24:10451051.
Holmes, P. M. and Moll, E. J. 1990. Effect of depth and duration of burial on alien Acacia saligna and Acacia cyclops seeds. S. Afr. J. Ecol. 1:1217.
Holmes, P. M. and Newton, R. J. 2004. Patterns of seed persistence in South African fynbos. Plant Ecol. 172:143158.
Holmes, P. M., Richardson, D. M., van Wilgen, B. W., and Gelderblom, C. 2000. Recovery of South Africa fynbos vegetation following alien woody plant clearing and fire: implications for restoration. Aust. J. Ecol. 25:631639.
Hutchison, V. H. 1975. Factors influencing thermal tolerances of individual organisms. in Thermal Ecology II, Proceeding of a Symposium, CONF-750425. 1026.
International Seed Testing Association 2003. ISTA Working Sheets on Tetrazolium Testing. Volume II. Zurich ISTA.
Jeffery, D. J., Holmes, P. M., and Rebelo, A. G. 1988. Effects of dry heat on seed germination in selected indigenous and alien legume species in South Africa. S. Afr. J. Bot. 54:2834.
Katan, J. 1981. Solar heating (solarization) of soil for control of soilborne pests. Annu. Rev. Phytopathol. 19:211236.
Katan, J. and DeVay, J. E. 1991. Soil solarization: historical perspectives, principles, and uses. Pages 2337. in Katan, J. and DeVay, J. E. Soil Solarization. Boca Raton, FL: CRC.
Kremer, R. J. 1986. Antimicrobial activity of velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti) seeds. Weed Sci. 34:617622.
Kremer, R. J. 1993. Management of weed seed banks with microorganisms. Ecol. Appl. 3:4252.
Kremer, R. J., Hughes, L. B. J., and Aldrich, R. J. 1984. Examination of microorganisms and deterioration resistance mechanisms associated with velvetleaf seed. Agron. J. 76:745749.
Linke, K. H. 1994. Effects of soil solarization on arable weeds under Mediterranean conditions: control, lack of response or stimulation. Crop Prot. 13:114120.
Manor, R., Cohen, O., and Saltz, D. 2008. Homogenization and invasiveness of commensal species in Mediterranean afforested landscapes. Biol. Invasions. 10:507515.
Mickelson, J. A. and Grey, W. E. 2006. Effect of soil water content on wild oat (Avena fatua) seed mortality and seedling emergence. Weed Sci. 54:255262.
Milton, S. J. and Hall, A. V. 1981. Reproductive biology of Australian acacias in the southwestern Cape Province, South Africa. Trans. R. Soc. S. Afr. 44:465487.
Morris, M. J. 1997. Impact of gall-forming rust fungus Uromycladium tepperianum on the invasive tree Acacia saligna in South Africa. Biol. Control. 10:7582.
Morrison, D. A., Auld, T. D., Rish, S., Porter, C., and McClay, K. 1992. Patterns of test-imposed seed dormancy in native Australian legumes. Ann. Bot. (Lond.) 70:157163.
Morrison, D. A., McClay, K., Porter, C., and Rish, S. 1998. The role of the lens in controlling heat-induced breakdown of testa-imposed dormancy in native Australian legumes. Ann. Bot. (Lond.) 82:3540.
Musil, C. F. 1993. Effect of invasive Australian Acacias on the regeneration, growth and nutrient chemistry of South African lowland fynbos. J. Appl. Ecol. 30:361372.
Neelu, G., Mohit, G., and Mamta, P. 1998. Tetrazolium test for the seeds of Acacia nilotica Willd. ex. Del. Indian For. 124:10391042.
Paynter, Q., Csurhes, S. M., Heard, T. A., Ireson, J., Julien, M. H., Lloyd, J., Lonsdale, W. M., Palmer, W. A., Sheppard, A. W., Klinken, R. D. V., and van Klinken, R. D. 2003. Worth the risk? Introduction of legumes can cause more harm than good: an Australian perspective. Aust. Syst. Bot. 16:8188.
Quilivan, B. J. 1971. Seed coat impermeability in legumes. J. Aust. Inst. Agric. Sci. 37:283295.
Richardson, D. M. and Kluge, R. L. 2008. Seed banks of invasive Australian Acacia species in South Africa: role in invasiveness and options for management. Perspect. Plant Ecol. Evol. Syst. 10:161177.
Rolston, M. P. 1978. Water impermeable seed dormancy. Bot. Rev. 44:365396.
Sauerborn, J., Linke, K. H., Saxena, M. C., and Koch, W. 1989. Soil solarization: a non-chemical approach for management of plant pathogens and pests. Crop Prot. 5:190198.
Shaybany, B. and Rouhani, I. 1976. Effect of pre-sowing treatments and temperatures on seed germination of Acacia saligna . Hortscience. 11:381383.
Shlevin, E., Saguy, I. S., Mahrer, Y., and Katan, J. 2003. Modeling the survival of two soilborne pathogens under dry structural solarization. Phytopathology. 93:12471257.
Thompson, K., Ceriani, R. M., Bakker, J. P., and Bekker, R. M. 2003. Are seed dormancy and persistence in soil related. Seed Sci. Res. 13:97100.
Tozer, M. G. 1998. Distribution of the soil seed bank and influence of fire on seedling emergence in Acacia saligna growing on the central coast of New South Wales. Aust. J. Bot. 46:743755.
Van Mourik, T. A., Stomph, T. J., and Murdoch, A. J. 2005. Why high seed densities within buried mesh bags may overestimate depletion rates of soil seed banks. J. Appl. Ecol. 42:299305.
Williams, J. A. and West, C. J. 2000. Environmental weeds in Australia and New Zealand: issues and approaches to management. Aust. Ecol. 25:425444.
Witkowski, E. T. F. 1994. Growth of seedlings of the invasives, Acacia saligna and Acacia cyclops, in relation to soil phosphorus. Aust. J. Ecol. 19:290296.
Yelenik, S. G., Stock, W. D., and Richardson, D. M. 2004. Ecosystem level impacts of invasive Acacia saligna in the South African fynbos. Res. Ecol. 12:4451.


Reducing Persistent Seed Banks of Invasive Plants by Soil Solarization—The Case of Acacia saligna

  • O. Cohen (a1), J. Riov (a2), J. Katan (a2), A. Gamliel (a3) and P. Bar (Kutiel) (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed