Seed germination during unhospitable environmental conditions can be a major barrier to direct seeding efforts in dryland systems. In the sagebrush steppe, Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis and Artemisia arbuscula are important shrub species that are being used in restoration, but seeding success is highly sporadic due to inter-annual and intra-seasonal weather variability. Altering and expanding the period of germination, as a form of bet-hedging, may improve plant establishment. Our objective was to determine if we could expand the period of germination using plant growth regulators (PGRs) applied in a conglomerated seed coating treatment. In a laboratory study, the seed was either left untreated, conglomerated separately with two concentrations of a germination inhibitor, abscisic acid (ABA), or with two different germination promoters, gibberellic acid (GA3) and 1-Aminocyclopropane carboxylic acid (ACC), a precursor to ethylene. Seeds were incubated in a loam soil at five constant temperatures (5-25 C) for approximately three months. Results indicate that seed treatments with PGRs can delay or speed germination. The greatest response to the seed treatments was observed at 5 C. For example, at this temperature PGRs delayed the time for 25% of the seeds to germinate by a maximum of 35 and 21 d and decreased this time by 5 and 25 d for A. t. ssp. Wyomingensis and A. arbuscula, respectively. Field studies are needed to determine if the bet-hedging strategy developed in this study will increase the likelihood that some seeds will germinate during periods that are more favorable for plant establishment.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences



Date Submitted


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1-Aminocyclopropane carboxylic acid, abscisic acid, ethylene, gibberellic acid, sagebrush steppe, seed coating, seed enhancement