Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

LeTierce, Amelie [1], Finch, Jessamine [1], Piantedosi, Michael [1].

Seed of Rare Wetland Native May Store Well After All!.

Slender marsh-pink (Sabatia campanulata) is a charismatic wetland wildflower in the Gentianaceae native to the southeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The northernmost extent of this range is in New York and Massachusetts, where the conservation status of S. campanulata is extremely rare (S1) and endangered. Major threats to S. campanulata include anthropological habitat loss and disturbance, competition with invasive species including Phragmites australis, predation by herbivores, and genetic factors such as inbreeding depression. The collection and banking of seed from remaining Massachusetts populations is a vital conservation action to preserve the genetic material of this species in New England. However, the seeds of certain species, termed exceptional, are unable to be stored ex situ in the same manner as orthodox seeds.  As gene banks grow to include all species with conservation needs, an improved understanding of plant reproductive and seed biology will be necessary to ensure a return on the investment of the collection and maintenance of genetic resources. Many Gentianaceae are believed to have short-lived seed, and in 2018 preliminary viability investigations into rare members of the family stored in the New England Plant Conservation Program seed bank achieved 40-50% germination. Notably, the seed of S. campanulata stored under the same conditions failed to germinate. Based on these results, S. campanulata was presumed to be desiccation sensitive and likely to be unsuitable for conventional seed banking. To further investigate seed storage behavior, we carried out germination trials on a recently gathered seed collection exposed to variable drying periods (24h, 48h, 5d) compared with seed stored conventionally for five years (18°C, 15% RH). Seeds were incubated at 20/10°C (12/12h light/dark) with and without a preceding cold, moist stratification treatment (12w, 5°C). Final germination proportion was lowest for material that had been stored in the seed bank for five years and was cold stratified prior to incubation (44%). However, the same material that was not cold stratified germinated to 60%. Germination was highest for recently gathered, undried seed that was cold stratified (85%), and similarly high without stratification (78%).  Given that desiccation treatments failed to yield the predicted linear decline in germinability, future investigations will continue to characterize the dessication threshold of this taxon to inform optimal storage and propagation protocols for this regionally rare wildflower.

Related Links:
Native Plant Trust

1 - Native Plant Trust, Conservation, 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham, MA, 01701, USA

desiccation tolerance
seed banking
Seed germination
endangered species
native species
Wetland Species.

Presentation Type: Poster
Number: PCB001
Abstract ID:813
Candidate for Awards:None

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