J Syst Evol

• Research Articles •    

Soil burial induced dormancy in weedy rice seeds through hormone level changes: Implications in adaptive evolution and weed control

Xiao‐Qi Jiang1†, Xin‐Yu Zhu2†, and Bao‐Rong Lu1*   

  1. 1 Ministry of Education, Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Fudan University, Shanghai 200438, China
    2 Shanghai Experimental School, Shanghai 200125, China
  • Received:2020-09-15 Accepted:2021-02-16 Online:2021-02-23

Abstract: Seed dormancy plays a key role in preventing seeds of higher plants from random germination under adverse environmental conditions. Previous studies suggested that a critical temperature could regulate germination of weedy rice seeds without primary dormancy at seed dispersion. However, what will happen to the non-dormant seeds after shattering in the soil seed banks when temperature fluctuates to exceed the critical temperature remains an interesting question to be investigated. To determine whether or not soil burial can change the status of dormancy in weedy rice seeds, we examined germination ratios of weedy rice seeds after soil-burial treatments. In addition, we compared hormone levels in the untreated seeds and viable but ungerminated seeds after soil burial. Results showed that soil burial induced a proportion of 41%–72% dormant seeds in the initially non-dormant weedy rice seeds. Also, the induction of seed dormancy is associated with the change of hormone levels in the seeds treated by soil burial, suggesting that soil burial can significantly activate the control of hormone production in seeds. Together, the previously reported mechanism of critical temperature-inhibited seed germination and the newly found phenomenon of soil burial-induced seed dormancy provide a “double-security” strategy to ensure germination of weedy rice seeds under a favorable condition in agricultural ecosystems. The findings not only reveal the important role of rapid evolution of adaptive functions in weeds, such as weedy rice, in adapting to changing agricultural environments, but also facilitate the design of strategies for effective weedy rice control practices.

Key words: adaptation, germination, hormone, Oryza sativa f. spontanea, seed dormancy, weed evolution