Research Supervision: Dr David Merritt, Dr Jason Stevens and Prof Kingsley Dixon
Objectives: Develop researcher capacity to increase the reliable supply of high quality seeds and develop technologies to deliver robust and high vigour seeds to restoration sites.
Outcomes: (1) Seed quality control, germination, and storage standards and technologies established; (2) A managed, reliable, and cost-effective seed supply chain principle established including the development of seed production farming for species in high demand; (3) Species- and region-specific seed enhancement technologies for wild species to increase seed germination performance and seedling establishment, coupled with precision seed delivery systems suitable for broad-acre restoration of diverse species mixes.
PDF2 (Post Doctoral Fellow) and PhD4
Engineering the establishment niche: seed enhancement technologies to overcome seedling recruitment failure &
Seed coating and pelleting: developing seed technologies for effective mechanised delivery of restoration-ready seeds.
Seed enabling technologies will be developed to improve mechanised seed delivery and to incorporate germination stimulants and anti-stress compounds. Research will focus on seed pelleting using clay-based products and polymers, and film coatings that have customised physical and chemical constituents. Coating and pelleting will be designed based on site-specific substrate characteristics and variously include surfactants to overcome soil water repellency, water-holding powders, agglomerations of seeds to address seedling impedance via soil crusting. Trials will be conducted under laboratory and glasshouse conditions in a range of mining substrates. Field-proofing will be undertaken in purpose-built rain out shelters under simulated rainfall scenarios. Focal species include those in high demand for restoration and encompassing a diversity of seed morphological and dormancy types to develop procedures applicable to a broad range of species.
Ecophysiology of seed dormancy and germination: creating the capacity for germination on demand.
Seed dormancy is present in 70% of all seed-bearing plants and represents one of the most significant impediments to the use of native seeds in restoration. Largely missing in restoration programs in Australia are the many families with deep and complex seed dormancy. This project will overcome seed dormancy through identification of the complex, multiple and often sequential environmental cues that promote germination. Treatments that are repeatable and applicable to the tonnages of seeds necessary for restoration will be developed.
Restoration seed banking capability: seed storage behaviour and longevity.
Seed storage is fundamental to managing the seed supply chain, allowing seeds to be banked over many seasons, providing a resource for large restoration projects. But even when stored under optimal conditions, gradual deterioration of seed leads to reduced vigour and establishment potential, and ultimately death. Currently there is an incomplete understanding of the storage physiology of seeds of wild species. This project will resolve the storage longevity and physiology of phylogenetically diverse seeds using modelling and rapid ageing techniques and develop biophysical and biochemical predictors of storage behaviour through the novel application of metabolic principles quantifying energetic patterns for respiration using respirometry (Li-Cor and Q2 seed systems) recently purchased by BGPA