Navigation Links
Super-tough seed coat keeps Michaux's sumac on critically endangered list

It is one of the rarest shrubs in the southeastern United States, and for scientists trying to save it, the critically endangered Michaux's sumac (Rhus michauxii) is not cooperating.

So far botanists have exposed the hard-, thick-coated seeds of this native North American plant to boiling water, dry heat up to 284 degrees Fahrenheit and flames from a propane blowtorch to try to coax them into germination. Nothing has worked.

"Complete understanding of the germination requirements of endangered plants is an absolute requirement to effectively manage populations," Smithsonian research associate Jay Bolin and botanists Marcus Jones and Lytton Musselman write in a recent paper on this plant in Native Plants Journal.

So far, however, Michaux's sumac has not given up its secrets.

Because Michaux's sumac grows only in areas with few trees where the vegetation has been disturbed, it has long been assumed that its seeds germinate naturally following exposure to the high temperatures of a brush or forest fire. Decline of this plant has been attributed to the prevention and suppression of brush and forest fires by humans.

In Virginia it grows in only two places: on the grounds of the Virginia Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center in Fort Picket, and a mowed railway right-of-way in an undisclosed location.

In a recent series of germination experiments, the scientists exposed different sets of Michaux's sumac seeds to dry heat temperatures of 140, 176, 212, 248 and 284 degrees Fahrenheit, some sets for 5 minutes and other sets for 10 minutes. (The temperatures were determined based on maximum wildfire surface temperatures and burn times recorded in southeastern U.S. forests.)

The researchers found that temperatures above 212 degrees F. killed the seeds. Lower temperatures had virtually no impact on breaking the seed's dormancy.

The highest germination rates30 percentoccurred after sulfuric acid was poured on Michaux's sumac seeds and allowed to scarify (dissolve and weaken) the seed coats. This finding, from an experiment done in 1996, has led the researchers to their next experiment using birds.

"We are going to feed the seeds to quail and wild turkey to determine if that breaks the seed dormancy," says Bolin, a research associate with the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and an assistant professor at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.

Seed passage through the digestive tracts of fruit-eating birds (and exposure to the acid in the bird's stomachs) may break the physical dormancy of these seeds and help disperse them as well, the scientists write.


Contact: John Gibbons

Related biology news :

1. Evolution keeps sex determination flexible
2. Texas-bound: Fungus keeps Texas leaf-cutter ants from spreading
3. Potential HIV drug keeps virus out of cells
4. For lambs, a pasture a week keeps blood suckers away
5. In elevated carbon dioxide, soybeans stumble but cheatgrass keeps on truckin
6. $1.7 million keeps McGill on edge
7. NASAs Terra satellite keeps eye on Eyjafjallajökulls ash plume
8. Spirit of ovarian cancer advocate keeps fundraising drive on track
9. Bacterial balance that keeps us healthy
10. Molecular chaperone keeps bacterial proteins from slow-dancing to destruction
11. A pet in your life keeps the doctor away
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Super-tough seed coat keeps Michaux's sumac on critically endangered list
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, ... for U.S. distribution of its DNA library preparation ... and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq ... the preparation of NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the ... diagnostic and prognostic applications in cancer and other ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... -- Munich, Germany , October ... automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking videos created ... that they can be quantitatively analyzed with SMI,s analysis ... , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated Semantic Gaze ... tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye Tracking Glasses ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... , Oct. 23, 2015 Research and ... the "Global Voice Recognition Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... --> The global voice recognition biometrics ... 2014-2019. --> --> ... has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... CITY , Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna ... affirms that its business and prospects remain fundamentally ... , Zoptrex™ (zoptarelin doxorubicin) recently received DSMB recommendation ... to completion following review of the final interim ... Phase 2 Primary Endpoint in men with heavily ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Jessica Richman and Zachary Apte, ... their initial angel funding process. Now, they are paying it forward to other ... stage investments in the microbiome space. In this, they join other successful ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO ) will be presenting at the ... on Wednesday, December 2 at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT . ... a corporate overview. th Annual Oppenheimer Healthcare Conference ... a.m. PT . Jim Mazzola , vice president of ... --> th Annual Oppenheimer Healthcare Conference in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris ... of IIROC on behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, ... release there are no corporate developments that would cause ... --> --> About Aeterna ... . --> Aeterna Zentaris is a ...
Breaking Biology Technology: