Fire-related cues break seed dormancy of six legumes of tropical eucalypt savannas in north-eastern Australia

Williams, Paul R., Congdon, Robert A., Grice, Anthony C., and Clarke, Peter J. (2003) Fire-related cues break seed dormancy of six legumes of tropical eucalypt savannas in north-eastern Australia. Austral Ecology, 28 (5). pp. 507-514.

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This paper describes an assessment of the effect of exposure to fire-related cues (heat shock, smoke and nitrate) and the interactions between the cues on seed dormancy release of tropical savanna legumes in north-eastern Australia. Ten legume species were tested, comprising both native and exotic species. The ten species responded variously to the treatments. Brief exposure to temperatures between 80 and 100°C was found to break the seed dormancy of the native ephemeral herbs Chamaecrista mimosoides, Crotalaria calycina, Crotalaria montana, Indigofera hirsuta and Tephrosia juncea, as well as the exotic ephemeral herb Crotalaria lanceolata. Exposure to 80°C combined with treatment with a nitrate solution produced an additive effect on the germination of Chamaecrista mimosoides and Crotalaria lanceolata. However, the four species with the heaviest seeds, two exotic ephemeral herbs (Chamaecrista absus and Crotalaria pallida) and two native perennials (Galactia tenuiflora and Glycine tomentella) displayed no significant increase in germination with exposure to fire-related cues. Exposure to 120°C for 5 min produced seed mortality in all species tested. Two of the largest seeded species, Crotalaria pallida and Galactia tenuiflora, displayed the lowest tolerance to heat shock, with seed mortality after exposure to 100°C for 5 min. These data indicate that fire can promote the germination of some tropical savanna legumes. As a proportion of seeds of each species displayed no innate dormancy, some germination may occur in the absence of fire, especially of exotic species.

Item ID: 190
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1442-9993
Keywords: heat shock, legumes, seed dormancy, seed germination, tropical savanna
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Copyright 2003 Blackwell Publishing. : The definitive version is available at

Record checked & discarded. RC 20/10/10

Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2006
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060799 Plant Biology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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