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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Dry/wet cycling reduces spore germination and viability in six peatland bryophytes

Fan, B. -B.; Yusup, S.; Sundberg, S.; Chen, Y. -D.; Qiao, H. -X.; Liu, S. -S.; Bu, Z. -J.


Dry/wet cycling driven by water level fluctuation in wetlands may strongly influence the destiny of seeds. However, how dry/wet cycling affects spore survival and germinability in peatland bryophytes is poorly understood.Six peatland bryophytes, three hummock- and three hollow-dwelling Sphagnum species, were chosen as study species. We tested the effects of dry (60% air RH)/wet (waterlogging) cycle frequency (once per 12, 8 or 4 days for low, medium or high, respectively) and ratio (3:1, 1:1 or 1:3 dry:wet time per cycle) on spore germinability, viability, dormancy percentage and protonema development.Dry/wet cycling significantly reduced spore germination percentage and viability and slowed protonema development in all Sphagnum species, being more pronounced with higher dry/wet cycling frequencies. The hummock species S. capillifolium and S. fuscum had higher spore germination percentage after the continuous dry treatment, while the hollow species S. angustifolium, S. squarrosum and S. subsecundum showed the opposite response, compared to the continuously wet treatment. Except for S. squarrosum, spore viability was higher after the dry than after the wet treatment. Spore viability and dormancy percentage were higher after a dry/wet ratio of 1:3 than after ratios of 3:1 and 1:1.Our study shows that both germinability and viability of bryophyte spores are reduced by dry/wet cycling (especially when frequent) in peatlands. This emphasizes the need to ensure constant water levels and low frequencies of water level fluctuation, which are relevant in connection with wetland restoration, to promote Sphagnum spore survival and establishment in peatlands after disturbances.


Dry; wet cycling; germination; protonema; Sphagnum; spore; waterlogging; wetland

Published in

Plant Biology
2023, Volume: 25, number: 3, pages: 440-447
Publisher: WILEY

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