A novel adaptation facilitates seed establishment under marine turbulent flows

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Seeds of Australian species of the seagrass genus Posidonia are covered by a membranous wing that we hypothesize plays a fundamental role in seed establishment in sandy, wave swept marine environments. Dimensions of the seed and membrane were quantified under electron microscopy and micro-CT scans, and used to model rotational, drag and lift forces. Seeds maintain contact with the seabed in the presence of strong turbulence: the larger the wing, the more stable the seed. Wing surface area increases from P. sinuosa < P. australis < P.coriacea correlating with their ability to establish in increasingly energetic environments. This unique seed trait in a marine angiosperm corresponds to adaptive pressures imposed on seagrass species along 7,500 km of Australia’s coastline, from open, high energy coasts to calmer environments in bays and estuaries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19693
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


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