The effect of fire on the dormancy break of annual legume seeds

  • Fabio Gresta | fgresta@unict.it Università di Catania, Italy.
  • Giovanni Avola CNR - Istituto per i Sistemi Agricoli e Forestali del Mediterraneo, Italy.
  • Rosalena Tuttobene Università di Catania, Italy.
  • Andrea Onofri Università di Perugia, Italy.
  • Vincenzo Barrile Università di Catania, Italy.
  • Antonia Cristaudo Università di Catania, Italy.
  • Valerio Abbate CNR - Istituto per i Sistemi Agricoli e Forestali del Mediterraneo, Italy.

Abstract

Fire is a common phenomenon in the Mediterranean environment and strongly influences vegetal population dynamics through its impact on vegetation and the soil seed bank. Fire is able to break down the seed coat of hard-seeded legumes within the soil and trigger germination. To evaluate the effect of fire on the dormancy break in Medicago ciliaris, Medicago rugosa and Scorpiurus muricatus subsp. subvillosus, the seeds were placed at three different depths (surface, 25 mm and 50 mm) and subjected to fires at two different intensities (high and low). As a control sample, a batch of seeds was buried at 25 mm for the duration of the trial and not subjected to fire. Soil temperatures during the fire were compared directly to stubble quantity and indirectly related to soil depth. The two Medicago species survived exposure to 90°C for a few minutes and displayed a significant increase in germination with exposure to high temperatures (over 70°C) for several minutes. On the other hand, no germination occurred in Scorpiurus, irrespective of treatment. In conclusion, fire had a significant and positive effect in triggering germination of the Medicago species, but the dispersal strategies of these hard-seeded legumes are only partially interrupted by fire as a large number of seeds (>50%) remained non-germinated in the soil.

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Author Biographies

Fabio Gresta, Università di Catania
Dipartimento di Scienze Agronomiche, Agrochimiche e delle Produzioni Animali
Rosalena Tuttobene, Università di Catania
Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Agrarie e Alimentari
Andrea Onofri, Università di Perugia
Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie ed Ambientali
Vincenzo Barrile, Università di Catania
Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Agrarie e Alimentari
Antonia Cristaudo, Università di Catania
Dipartimento di Biologia “Marcello La Greca”
Published
2011-07-27
Section
Original Articles
Keywords:
Fire, seed germination, annual legumes, dormancy break
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How to Cite
Gresta, F., Avola, G., Tuttobene, R., Onofri, A., Barrile, V., Cristaudo, A., & Abbate, V. (2011). The effect of fire on the dormancy break of annual legume seeds. Italian Journal of Agronomy, 6(3), e23. https://doi.org/10.4081/ija.2011.e23