Seed germination of Agave species as influenced by substrate water potential
R,J Rogelio Aguirre
BACKGROUND: Plants of Agave spp. perform Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) and are highly drought-tolerant, but little is known concerning seed germination under low water availability. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of substrate water potential (ΨW) on seed germination and contrast hydrotime parameters of seven valuable and commercially-important Agave species from different geographical distributions and climatic regions of Mexico. Our hypothesis was that seed germination of Agave species is not affected by low water availability independently of seed biomass and the climate of their distribution area. RESULTS: Seed germination (at 25°C and in the dark) between 85 and 100% for all species occurred within 80 - 180 h at -0.03 MPa and 250 - 430 h at -1.0 MPa. Seed germination at -1.5 MPa declined to less than 50% (p < 0.05) for A. asperrima and A. cupreata but did not change significantly for A. americana var. marginata, A. lechuguilla and A. striata, although they showed the lowest mean base water potential (-2.01 to -2.64 MPa). Seed germination of 40% Agave species, from arid and semi-arid climates in this study, was not affected by the lower ΨW. CONCLUSION: Germination of seeds of Agave species is moderately affected by low water availability, is partially dependent of their ecological distribution, and is independent of seed mass.