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Maturation temperature and rainfall influence seed dormancy characteristics of annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum)

Kathryn J. Steadman A D , Amanda J. Ellery B , Ross Chapman B , Andrew Moore C and Neil C. Turner B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Western Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative, School of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B CSIRO Plant Industry, Private Bag No. 5, Wembley, WA 6913, Australia.

C CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

D Corresponding author; email:

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 55(10) 1047-1057
Submitted: 6 April 2004  Accepted: 12 August 2004   Published: 25 October 2004


The role of temperature and rainfall during seed development in modulating subsequent seed dormancy status was studied for Lolium rigidum Gaud. (annual ryegrass). Climatic parameters relating to geographic origin were compared with annual ryegrass seed dormancy characteristics for seeds collected from 12 sites across the southern Western Australian cropping region. Seed germination was tested soon after collection and periodically during subsequent after-ripening. Temperature in the year of seed development and long-term rainfall patterns showed correlations with aspects of seed dormancy, particularly the proportion of seeds remaining dormant following 5 months of after-ripening. Consequently, for one population the temperature (warm/cool) and water supply (adequate/reduced) during seed development were manipulated to investigate the role of maternal environment in the quantity and dormancy characteristics of seeds produced. Seeds from plants grown at warm temperatures were fewer in number, weighed less, and were less dormant than those from plants grown at cool temperature. Seeds that developed under both cool temperature and reduced moisture conditions lost dormancy faster than seeds from well-watered plants. Seed maturation environment, particularly temperature, can have a significant effect on annual ryegrass seed numbers and seed dormancy characteristics.

Additional keywords: climate, drought, germination, plant growth, seed production, water stress, weed.


We thank Sandy Nedelkos, Sheena Pollock, and Christiane Ludwig for invaluable technical support. Thanks to Kevin Murray (Statistical Consulting Group, UWA) for the logistic regression analysis. This research was funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (CSP270).


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