seed dormancy

Kathleen Archer Kathleen.Archer at
Tue Sep 28 13:10:12 EST 1999

Dear Plant Folks,
I was asked the following question by our animal physiologist, and I pose
the question to you.  

"I have a question about seed dispersal by vertebrate vectors. I know that
passage through the digestive system is, for some species, necessary to
break dormancy... that is, it enhances their sproutability. I'm wondering
if  the digestive enzymes or  low pH ever induces seeds to
into a more dormant state while still keeping them viable.

If a seed is dispersed to an unknown, unpredictable environment via the
digestive system of animal, it may make sense for the seed to be in a
dormant state, more protected from dessication and mechanical insult. The
chemical environment of the vector could then serve as a cue to "hunker
down" in preparation for an unpredictable environment at the other end. 

Do seeds ever respond this way?"

I have never heard of an example of this, but thought someone out there
might know if such a thing exists.

Kathleen Archer

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