Influence of Temperature on Seed Germination of Five Wild-Growing Tulipa Species of Greece Associated with Their Ecological Profiles: Implications for Conservation and Cultivation

Plants (Basel). 2023 Apr 6;12(7):1574. doi: 10.3390/plants12071574.


Although tulips are famous worldwide as ornamental plants, the knowledge about the seed germination of wild-growing species remains limited. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of temperature on seed germination of the local, wild-growing Greek endemics Tulipa bakeri and T. goulimyi and the sub-Balkan endemic T. undulatifolia, which are threatened with extinction, as well as the Mediterranean T. australis and the Asiatic T. clusiana naturalized on Chios Island (Greece). The germination responses at five constant temperatures (5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 °C) were assessed for all studied species in growth chambers under a 12:12 light-dark photoperiod. The ecological profile for each species was developed in R using open-source bioclimatic data; this was built to illustrate the abiotic environmental conditions of their wild habitats, to facilitate the examination of temperature effects on seed germination, and to facilitate their cultivation in artificial environments. The results indicated that the seed germination requirements of the studied species had a range-specific temperature dependence, reflecting their natural adaptation to local ecological conditions. Seed germination of T. bakeri, T. australis, and T. clusiana was observed only in a narrow range of very low temperatures (5-10 °C), whereas germination of T. undulatifolia and T. goulimyi occurred at temperatures between 5 and 15 °C. A temperature increase to 20 or 25 °C resulted in the absence of seed germination for all five Greek tulip species. The germinated seeds were planted in pots and bulblets were developed under greenhouse conditions. Seeds and bulblets constitute valuable genetic materials for the cultivation and ex situ conservation of these five Greek tulip species, three of which are threatened with extinction.

Keywords: biodiversity; bulbous plants; ecological profiles; ecological requirements; seed dormancy; threatened species; tulips.