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Anchorage by seed mucilage prevents seed dislodgement in high surface flow: a mechanistic investigation


Pan, Vincent; Girvin, Cecilia; LoPresti, Eric (2022), Anchorage by seed mucilage prevents seed dislodgement in high surface flow: a mechanistic investigation, Dryad, Dataset,


  1. Background and Aims: Seed mucilage is a common and highly diverse trait shared among thousands of angiosperm species. While long recognized that mucilage allows seeds to anchor to substrates (antitelechory), resisting abiotic and biotic dislodgement, we still lack a mechanistic understanding of this process.
  2. Methods: We propose a mechanistic model of how mucilage affects substrate anchorage and fluid resistance, ultimately contributing to dislodgement resistance. To test this model, we subjected mucilaginous seeds of 52 species, varying in eight measured seed traits, to seven days of continuous water flow at a range of dislodgement potentials.
  3. Key Results: Supporting our model, mucilage mass increased force necessary to dislodge both dry and wet seeds; our measurement of the dislodgement force of dry mucilage explained time to dislodgement well. The effect size was remarkably large; increasing the standardized mucilage mass by one standard deviation resulted in a 280-fold increase in the time to dislodgement. Fluid resistance was largely dependent on speed of water flow and the seed’s modified drag coefficient, but not seed traits. Neither mucilage expansion speed nor mucilage decay rate explained dislodgement potential well. 
  4. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the degree of anchorage to substrate, measured with a simple dislodgement force assay, is highly predictive of mucilaginous seed retention in highly erosive environments. In contrast, we found that other seed and mucilage traits are of lesser importance to anchorage.


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