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Mucilage secretion: an adaptative mechanism to reduce seed removal by soil erosion?

AuthorsEngelbrecht, Meike ; Bochet, E. ; García-Fayos, P.
Drop impact
Issue DateFeb-2014
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
CitationBiological Journal of the Linnean Society 111: 241- 251 (2014)
AbstractDiaspores of many plant species inhabiting open vegetation in semi-arid environments secrete mucilage after wetting (myxospermy) that glues the diaspores to the ground and prevents movement when the mucilage dries. In the present study, we test whether mucilage secretion can be considered as a selective response to soil erosion in plant species inhabiting semi-arid environments. We relate the amount and type of mucilage secretion by seeds of Helianthemum violaceum and Fumana ericifolia (Cistaceae) to the number of raindrop impacts needed to remove these seeds after gluing them with their own mucilage to the ground and also the time that these seeds resist water run-off without detaching. We also compare the amount of seed mucilage production by plants growing in habitats without erosion and plants affected by severe erosion by fitting mixed effect models. Our results show an important phenotypic variation in the amount of mucilage secretion in both species, although it is suggested that the effect of mucilage secretion in the rate of seed removal by erosion is species- and mechanism-dependent. For F. ericifolia, the amount of mucilage secreted by the seeds is directly proportional to their resistance to raindrop impacts and is positively related to the intensity of the erosive processes that the plants experience. Nevertheless, all the seeds resist the force of run-off during 60 min, irrespective of the amount of mucilage they produce. In H. violaceum, mucilage secretion per se, and not the amount of mucilage produced by the seeds, has an effect on the rate of seed removal by erosive processes. Furthermore, cellulosic fibrils were found only in the mucilage of F. ericifolia but not in H. violaceum. Overall, our results only partially support the hypothesis that a selective response to soil erosion exists. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2014, 111, 241–251.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/bij.12198
Identifiersissn: 0024-4066
Appears in Collections:(CIDE) Artículos
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