American Society of Naturalists

A membership society whose goal is to advance and to diffuse knowledge of organic evolution and other broad biological principles so as to enhance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences.

“A general model for seed and seedling respiratory metabolism”

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Heng Huang, Jinzhi Ran, Xiaowei Li, Zhiqiang Wang, Renfei Chen, Fan Wu, Miao Ye, Fei Jia, Karl J. Niklas, and Jianming Deng (Mar 2020)

A general model for seed and seedling respiratory metabolism

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The ontogeny of seed plants usually involves a dormant dehydrated state and the breaking of dormancy and germination, which distinguishes it from that of most organisms. Seed germination and seedling establishment are critical ontogenetic stages in the plant life cycle and both are fueled by respiratory metabolism. However, the scaling of metabolic rate with respect to individual traits remains poorly understood. Here, we tested metabolic scaling theory during seed germination and early establishment growth using a recently developed model and empirical data collected from 41 species. The results show that (i) the mass-specific respiration rate (Rm) was weakly correlated with body mass, mass-specific N, and C content, (ii) Rm conformed to a single Michaelis-Menten curve as a function of tissue water content, and (iii) the central parameters in the model were highly correlated with DNA content and critical enzyme activities. The model offers new insights and a more integrative scaling theory that quantifies the combined effects of tissue water content and body mass on respiratory metabolism during early plant ontogeny.