Understanding seed development to optimize collection and germination of Rutaceae

By Michael Just

Mining has a significant impact on the Australian environment and numerous barriers to the successful restoration of impacted areas exist. Seed is often cited as the best source material for producing high level restoration outcomes however, the development of seeds and the interactions between maternal conditions, dormancy and germination are poorly understood for a range of ecologically significant species in Western Australia. PhD student Michael Just is undertaking research to determine how maternal conditions affect the collection and usefulness of native Rutaceae in order to optimize germination protocols and increase their presence in restoration.  


Maternal conditions of temperature, moisture, light and nutrients are known to have significant impacts on the development of seeds and the level of dormancy present within a population. Thus, changing climatic conditions and deviations in maternal conditions within restored sites are expected to have a significant impact on seed development and germination in situ and ex situ. Within the Rutaceae collection methods have been noted to impact viability and germination in a number of individuals. By quantifying maternal conditions and seed development PhD student Michael Just will determine how environmental conditions impact our approach to seed collection and germination of Rutaceae. This will provide a basis of information upon which to further optimize germination protocols for these species, increasing their presence within restoration. 


1) Quantify maternal conditions at a number of individual Rutaceae 

2) Quantify seed development and establish optimal collection methods and times

3) Assess dormancy and germination within populations and determine the effect of maternal conditions on the usefulness of seeds to restoration efforts. 


Mine site restoration is a costly process both temporally and financially. This is also true of seed collection and germination which is not only constrained by season, but by the efforts and knowledge of those employed to provide seed material for propagation.  By increasing our understanding of collection times and determining how maternal conditions impact germination requirements, this project will optimize the usefulness of seed collections, having significant impacts at the seed collection, seed treatment and species propagation levels of restoration. By increasing the usefulness of collections and decreasing the time required for collection, the outcomes of this project are expected to significantly decrease production costs for target species.