Early plant growth: identifying the end point of the seedling phase

Hanley, ME, Fenner, M, Whibley, H and Darvill, B (2004) Early plant growth: identifying the end point of the seedling phase. New Phytologist, 163, (1), 61-66. (doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137/2004.01094.x).


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Despite the importance of seedling establishment in plant biology, there is no consensus on what constitutes a 'seedling'. Here we examined aspects of early plant development that could be used to mark the transition from the seedling to the postseedling phase.

Using a hypogeal species (pea, Pisum sativum) and an epigeal species (sunflower, Helianthus annuus), we investigated whether the utilization of cotyledon-stored mineral nutrients coincides with any changes in relative growth rate (RGR). We also examined how the timing of cotyledon removal at different points during early development affected subsequent growth.

For both species, the timing of RGR(max), the exhaustion of cotyledon reserves, and the attainment of independence from cotyledons all roughly coincided (though exhaustion of seed reserves was not observed in the epigeal species because the cotyledons absorbed external nutrients).

We conclude that because the point of attainment of RGR(max) is a distinctly identifiable event, it is a more reliable marker for defining the end of the seedling stage than either the exhaustion of mineral reserves, or the cessation of dependence on cotyledon reserves.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137/2004.01094.x
ISSNs: 0028-646X (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: cotyledon, epigeal, hypogeal, regeneration ecology, relative growth rate (RGR),pea (Pisum sativum), sunflower (Helianthus annuus), douglas fir seedlings, decimel code, defoliation
Subjects: Q Science > QK Botany
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Biological Sciences
ePrint ID: 24015
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
16 March 2004Published
12 February 2004Submitted
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:45
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/24015

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