Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Jerry M. Baskin

Second Advisor

Dr. Carol C. Baskin


The biology of seed dormancy and germination of 46 species representing 11 of the 12 tribes in Convolvulaceae were compared in laboratory (mostly), field and greenhouse experiments. Seeds were tested for kind of dormancy and storage behavior; artificial or simulated natural treatments were applied to break physical dormancy (PY); the initial route of water entry (“water gap”) into seeds was identified; the morphoanatomy of the water gap was compared in seeds of 17 species; ontogenetical differences between water gap and seed coat away from the hilum were described in Ipomoea lacunosa seeds; cycling of sensitivity to dormancy break was elucidated in seeds of I. lacunosa, I. hederacea, Cuscuta australis and Jaquemontia ovalifolia; and mechanism of opening of the water gap was determined for seeds of I. lacunosa and of I hederacea.

Seeds of only three of the 46 species were nondormant. Two of these were recalcitrant (Maripa panamensis and Erycibe henryi), and the other one was orthodox (Bonamia menziesii). Seeds of the other 43 species were orthodox and had PY except those of Cuscuta europea, which also had physiological dormancy (PD) i.e. combinational dormancy (PY + PD). Two bulges adjacent to the micropyle were identified as the water gap in all seeds with PY except those of Cuscuta, in which the hilar fissure is the water gap. Anatomy of the bulges (water gap) adjacent to the micropyle differs from that of seed coat away from the bulges. A different sequence and phase of anticlinal and periclinal cell divisions during development created weak transitional zones between bulge - hilum and bulge - seed coat away from hilum. Water vapor pressure changes below the bulges caused formation of the opening(s) in water gap. Seeds of I. lacunosa I. hederacea, C. australis and J. ovalifolia cycle between sensitive and insensitive states to dormancy break, but not between PY and nondormancy. Seed dormancy and storage characteristics and anatomy and morphology of dormancy of seeds of Convolvulaceae closely follow the molecular phylogeny of the family. I suggest that PY in seeds of subfamily Convolvuloideae evolved from nondormant recalcitrant seeds of an ancestor closely related to Erycibeae.