Variable mortality of Pyrenophora semeniperda–infected Bromus tectorum seeds has been referred to as a “race for survival.” Dormant seeds are highly susceptible to P. semeniperda infection. While much is known about primary dormancy little is known about secondary dormancy in B. tectorum seeds. Dormancy status is not the only variable determining outcomes within the Bromus - Pyrenophora pathosystem. Varying temperature and intermittent hydration may strongly influence germination outcomes of B. tectorum in the presence of P. semeniperda. While it has long been assumed that B. tectorum seeds are infected by P. semeniperda in the fall it was recently suggested that seeds may be infected in the summer; however, there is little evidence to support this. To further characterize the Pyrenophora semeniperda - Bromus tectorum pathosystem two studies were conducted to address the following: (1) characterization of secondary dormancy in B. tectorum seeds and (2) summer interactions between host and pathogen after summer inoculation. Studies were conducted using dormant and/or non-dormant B. tectorum (along with B. rubens in one study) seeds and two strains of P. semeniperda. Study one used laboratory and field experiments to characterize secondary dormancy in B. tectorum seeds in terms of temperature (0.5-20°C), and water potential (-2.0-0 MPa). Data was used in repeated probit regression analysis to determine hydrothermal parameters (ψb(50), σψb, θHT) for secondary dormancy induction and loss. In the second study seeds were inoculated with one of two strains of P. semeniperda then exposed to intermittent hydration or dry storage at warm temperatures (30-60°C). After treatment seeds were rehydrated and outcomes observed. Optimum conditions for secondary dormancy induction were incubation at -1.0 MPa at 5°C. Seeds were likely to enter secondary dormancy through the cold winter months indicated by an increase or more positive ψb(50), while a decrease or more negative ψb(50) is associated with dormancy loss which is generally observed in the hot, dry summer months. When seeds were inoculated in the summer they only escaped death when summer conditions were ideal for after-ripening which allowed them to germinate rapidly under favorable autumn conditions. However, the pathogen caused high seed mortality no matter the treatment when disease progression advanced enough to inhibit seed germination. Thus this research shows that in areas with frequent summer rain storms, it would be highly advantageous to apply P. semeniperda as a biocontrol on seeds at maturity.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





Bromus tectorum, disease development, secondary dormancy, embryo, germination, hydration, mortality, pathosystem, Pyrenophora semeniperda, water potential, carryover