Weedy Adaptation in Setaria spp.: VI. S. faberi Seed hull shape as soil germination signal antenna

Weedy Adaptation in Setaria spp.: VI. S. faberi Seed hull shape as soil germination signal antenna

J.L. Donnelly, D.C. Adams, J. Dekker
(Submitted on 27 Mar 2014)

Ecological selection forces for weedy and domesticated traits have influenced the evolution of seed shape in Setaria resulting in similarity in seed shape that reflects similarity in ecological function rather than reflecting phylogenetic relatedness. Seeds from two diploid subspecies of Setaria viridis, consisting of one weedy subspecies and two races of the domesticated subspecies, and four other polyploidy weedy species of Setaria. We quantified seed shape from the silhouettes of the seeds in two separate views. Differences in shape were compared to ecological role (weed vs. crop) and the evolutionary trajectory of shape change by phylogenetic grouping from a single reference species was calculated. Idealized three-dimensional models were created to examine the differences in shape relative to surface area and volume. All populations were significantly different in shape, with crops easily distinguished from weeds, regardless of relatedness between the taxa. Trajectory of shape change varied by view, but separated crops from weeds and phylogenetic groupings. Three-dimensional models gave further evidence of differences in shape reflecting adaptation for environmental exploitation. The selective forces for weedy and domesticated traits have exceeded phylogenetic constraints, resulting in seed shape similarity due to ecological role rather than phylogenetic relatedness. Seed shape and surface-to-volume ratio likely reflect the importance of the water film that accumulates on the seed surface when in contact with soil particles. Seed shape may also be a mechanism of niche separation between taxa.

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