Seed mass versus seedling performance in Scots pine: a maternally dependent trait



It is generally accepted that larger seeds give rise to seedlings with better performance. On the other hand, the size that a seed reaches is genetically determined by at least two different traits ; the genetic variability of the developing embryo and the genetic variability of the maternal plant. Thus, the relative contributions of these two traits affect seedling performance by influencing seed size. In this paper, I investigate the effect of seed size on seedling performance in the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). From eight maternal plants, 50 seeds were planted in each of two soil types (800 seeds in total), and seedling performance was monitored for 1 yr. Seed mass proved to be highly constant within maternal plants. Soil type influenced emergence and survival; however, the effect of soil type differed depending on maternal origin. Seed mass was positively correlated with seedling emergence, although this relationship was not found for seedling survival or date of emergence. The initial growth of the shoot was also positively correlated with seed mass. However, after one growing season, seed mass had no effect on seedling performance, which depended exclusively on maternal origin. Nevertheless, the mean mass of seeds produced by plants was positively correlated with mean values of growth parameters. Thus, first-year seedling performance seems to be a maternal trait indirectly associated with seed size.