Plant Diversity ›› 2019, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (04): 229-236.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2019.07.002

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Evaluating germinability of eight desert halophytes under long-term seed storage: Implications for conservation

Sanjay Gairolaa, Hatem A. Shabanaa, Tamer Mahmouda, Ali El-Keblawyb, Andrea Santoc   

  1. a Sharjah Seed Bank and Herbarium, Sharjah Research Academy, P. O. Box 60999, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates;
    b Department of Applied Biology, College of Sciences, University of Sharjah, P. O. Box 27272, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates;
    c Independent Researcher, Selargius, Cagliari, Italy
  • Received:2018-12-02 Revised:2019-07-08 Online:2019-08-25 Published:2019-09-17
  • Contact: Sanjay Gairola,E-mail
  • Supported by:
    Authors would like to thank Dr. Amr Abdel-Hamid, Director General of the Sharjah Research Academy for encouragement and support. Assistance provided by SSBH team members at various stages of this study is greatly acknowledged. We thank Dr. Dave Aplin for his critical revision of the earlier version of this manuscript.

Abstract: Ex situ conservation in seed banks is a potential complementary conservation strategy for native plant species. It is well established that ex situ seed banking of native wild plants prolongs seed viability and thereby preserves genetic and species diversity for future use. We evaluated ex situ storage potential of eight halophytic species from deserts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by studying seed germination. Specifically, we examined the germinability of freshly collected seeds and seeds stored for three years in a seed bank. We also examined the effect of light conditions on fresh and stored seed germination. Fresh seeds of seven of the eight species tested had a higher germination rates under 12/12 h light/dark fluctuations than did those exposed to total darkness. Storage reduced light sensitivity in Halocnemum strobilaceum, Suaeda aegyptiaca, Salsola drummondii and Salsola imbricata, but increased the requirement for light in Arthrocnemum macrostachyum. In Anabasis setifera, storage decreased germination percentage when there was a 12-hour light/dark fluctuation, but increased germination rate when exposed to the dark treatment. Storage significantly reduced germination in both the light/dark and dark treatments in Suaeda vermiculata and S. aegyptiaca. Germination speed also responded differently to storage; whereas Timson's index significantly increased in A. macrostachyum and H. strobilaceum, it significantly decreased for S. drummondii, S. aegyptiaca and S. vermiculata. Germination of these species at a range of temperatures requires further testing; additionally, we strongly suggest that these laboratory findings be complemented by field studies.

Key words: Ex situ conservation, Halophytes, Seed bank collection, Seed germination, Salt tolerance, SSBH