Extreme drought alters progeny dispersal unit properties of winter wild oat (Avena sterilis L.)

Buzi Raviv, Janardan Khadka, Bupur Swetha, Jeevan R. Singiri, Rohith Grandhi, Eliyahu Shapira, Nurit Novoplansky, Yitzchak Gutterman, Ivan Galis, Marcelo Sternberg, Gideon Grafi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Main conclusion: The dead husk is a vital component of the dispersal unit whose biochemical properties can be modified following exposure to drought. This might affect seed performance and fate, soil properties and consequently plant biodiversity. Abstract: We investigated the effects of extreme drought on the dispersal unit (DU) properties of winter wild oat (Avena sterilis L.) in the Mediterranean ecosystems focusing on a commonly ignored component of the DU, namely the dead floral bracts (husk). DUs were collected from a climate change experimental research station in the Judean Hills, Israel, simulating extreme drought and from two additional sites differing in the rainfall amounts. Our results showed that drought conditions significantly affected A. sterilis reproductive traits displaying reduced DUs and caryopses weights. The husk contributes profoundly to seed performance showing that germination from the intact DUs or the intact florets 1 was higher, faster and more homogenous compared to naked caryopses; no effect of drought on germination properties was observed. The husk stored hundreds of proteins that retain enzymatic activity and multiple metabolites including phytohormones. Changes in rainfall amounts affected the composition and levels of proteins and other metabolites accumulated in the husk, with a notable effect on abscisic acid (ABA). The husk of both control and drought plants released upon hydration substances that selectively inhibited other species seed germination as well as substances that promoted microbial growth. Our data showed that the dead husk represents a functional component of the DU that have been evolved to nurture the embryo and to ensure its success in its unique habitat. Furthermore, drought conditions can modify husk biochemical properties, which in turn might affect seed performance and fate, soil microbiota and soil fertility and consequently plant species diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number77
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Allelopathy
  • Climate change
  • Dead organs enclosing embryos (DOEEs)
  • Dispersal unit
  • Drought
  • Husk properties
  • Maternal environment
  • Metabolomics
  • Phytohormones
  • Proteomics
  • Seed germination
  • Seed performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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