Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Seed Biologists Beware: End-of-Trial Estimation of Initial Viability May Be Error-Prone Due to Unexpected Seed Death during the Experiment

Version 1 : Received: 9 September 2021 / Approved: 15 September 2021 / Online: 15 September 2021 (12:19:18 CEST)

How to cite: Lamont, B.B.; Newton, R.J.; Gomez-Barreiro, P.; He, T. Seed Biologists Beware: End-of-Trial Estimation of Initial Viability May Be Error-Prone Due to Unexpected Seed Death during the Experiment. Preprints 2021, 2021090256 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202109.0256.v1). Lamont, B.B.; Newton, R.J.; Gomez-Barreiro, P.; He, T. Seed Biologists Beware: End-of-Trial Estimation of Initial Viability May Be Error-Prone Due to Unexpected Seed Death during the Experiment. Preprints 2021, 2021090256 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202109.0256.v1).

Abstract

Seed viability is routinely measured on seeds that fail to germinate at the end of an experiment. Together with the number of germinants, this is used to estimate viability of the seeds at start of the experiment (i.e., initial viability) and provides the comparative basis on which germination success is determined. We used this standard procedure on 40 Leucadendron species subjected to oscillating temperatures, heat and/or smoke pre-treatments to examine the extent to which they raised germination levels above that of the untreated controls. 16 species showed significantly different levels of estimated initial seed viability between treatments when they should have been unaffected. Loss of viability during the trial was an order of magnitude greater than annual loss during cold storage, which was usually negligible. Lowest levels of estimated initial viability occurred among the poorly germinating controls and confirmed that the heat and smoke treatments had little effect on viability. Species with soil-stored seeds were more vulnerable to this artefact than those with plant-stored seeds. We caution against the routine use of end-of-trial germination and viability of ungerminated seeds as an estimate of initial viability in determining germination success of various treatments. The preference is for estimates of initial viability to be undertaken on a separate sample of seeds in association with the trial.

Keywords

germination; Leucadendron; seed storage; seed viability estimation; viability loss

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