When genes go to sleep: the population genetic consequences of seed dormancy and monocarpic perenniality

Am Nat. 2004 Feb;163(2):295-311. doi: 10.1086/381041. Epub 2004 Feb 13.


In many annual plant populations, seeds may be dormant for several seasons before they germinate. Here, we investigate the consequences of both conditional (dispersed seeds cannot enter a dormant stage) and unconditional seed dormancy on the amount and the distribution of neutral genetic diversity within and among populations. We present joint demographic and population genetics models for single and subdivided populations and derive the effective size and population differentiation at both local and metapopulation scales. We suggest that a Wahlund effect is unlikely to result from age structure alone. Furthermore, the differentiation among populations is decreased by the presence of seed banks. We also extend these models to describe monocarpic (semelparous) perennial life cycle, where the nonreproductive stages are vegetative rosettes instead of dormant seeds. The main difference between the models relies in the way the density-dependent regulation is acting. The effective size of monocarpic perennial species may be less than the census number of individuals, and among-population differentiation is always larger than in annual species. We discuss our results in the light of recent population genetics surveys of annual plants with seed banks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Reproduction / genetics
  • Seeds / genetics*