A Methodological Approach for Testing the Viability of Seeds Stored in Short-Term Seed Banks
Efficient management of ‘active’ seed banks – specifically aimed at the short-term storage at room temperature of seeds to be used locally in conservation/regeneration programmes of endemic or endangered plant species – requires establishing the optimal storage time to maintain high seed viability, for each stored species. In this work, germination of seeds of the halophytes Thalictrum maritimum, Centaurea dracunculifolia and Linum maritimum has been investigated. The seeds had been stored for different periods of time in the seed bank of ‘La Albufera’ Natural Park (Valencia, SE Spain) after collection in salt marshes of the Park, where small populations of the three species are present. Seeds of T. maritimum and C. dracunculifolia have a relatively short period of viability at room temperature, and should not be stored for more than three years. On the other hand, L. maritimum seeds maintain a high germination percentage and can be kept at room temperature for up to 10 years. T. maritimum seeds, in contrast to those of the other two species, did not germinate in in vitro tests nor when sown directly on a standard substrate, unless a pre-treatment of the seeds was applied, mechanical scarification being the most effective. These results will help to improve the management of the seed bank, to generate more efficiently new plants for reintroduction and reinforcement of populations of these species in their natural ecosystems within the Natural Park.
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