Title: Germination ecology of the holoparasite Cuscuta epithymum
Authors: Meulebrouck, Klaar ×
Ameloot, Els
Van Assche, Jozef
Verheyen, Kris
Hermy, Martin
Baskin, Carol C #
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: C.A.B. International
Series Title: Seed science research vol:18 pages:25-34
Abstract: Little is known about the seed ecology of annual
holoparasites, such as Cuscuta (dodders), and how
germination is timed to occur when seedlings can
attach to a host. Seeds of Cuscuta epithymum, which
is a rare and often threatened species in dry heaths
of north-western Europe, were water-impermeable
(physically dormant) at maturity in late summer. An
8-week period at 58C, followed by incubation at 23,
15/6 or 30/208C, resulted in 15–30% germination.
Thus, in nature, only part of the seed population
exposed to low winter temperatures and a subsequent
warm spring potentially becomes waterpermeable
and can germinate in spring. When
scarified seeds were cold-stratified at 58C for 8
weeks and then incubated at 238C, essentially all the
viable seeds (c. 65%) germinated. It is concluded
that seeds have a combination of physical (PY) and
physiological (PD) dormancy (the first to be reported
in the Convolvulaceae), which is interpreted as a
double safety mechanism preventing germination
at unfavourable times or places. After PY and PD
were broken, seeds did not require light or
fluctuating temperatures for germination. Some loss
of PD (afterripening) can occur before PY is broken.
These data indicate that a portion of the seed crop
remains physically dormant in spring and potentially
forms a persistent seed bank, a strategy that
eliminates the risk of a total reproductive failure in a
particular bad year.
ISSN: 0960-2585
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Division Forest, Nature and Landscape Research
Plant Systematics and Ecology Section - miscellaneous
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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