The position in which seeds develop on the parental plant can have an effect on dormancy-break and germination. We tested the hypothesis that the proportion of seeds with intermediate physiological dormancy (PD) produced in the proximal position on a raceme of Isatis violascens plants is higher than that produced in the distal position, and further that this difference is related to temperature during seed development. Plants were watered at 3-day intervals, and silicles and seeds from the proximal (early) and distal (late) positions of racemes on the same plants were collected separately and tested for germination. After 0 and 6 months dry storage at room temperature (afterripening), silicles and seeds were cold stratified for 0–16 weeks and tested for germination. Mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures during development/maturation of the two groups of seeds did not differ. A higher proportion of seeds with the intermediate level than with the nondeep level of PD was produced by silicles in the proximal position than by those in the distal position, while the proportion of seeds with nondeep PD was higher in the distal than in the proximal position of the raceme. The differences were not due only to seed mass. Since temperature and soil moisture conditions were the same during development of the seeds in the raceme, differences in proportion of seeds with intermediate and nondeep PD are attributed to position on parental plant. The ecological consequence of this phenomenon is that it ensures diversity in dormancy-breaking and germination characteristics within a seed cohort, a probable bet-hedging strategy. This is the first demonstration of position effects on level of PD in the offspring.

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Published in Frontiers in Plant Science, v. 8, 147, p. 1-7.

© 2017 Lu, Tan, Baskin and Baskin.

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This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41361011, 31660122), the Major National Scientific Research Program of China (2014CB954202) and the Key Project of Chinese Ministry of Education (213038A).