Virginia Institute of Marine Science
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.
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Kendrick, Gary A.; Pomeroy, Andrew W.; Orth, R J.; Cambridge, Marion L.; Shaw, Jeremy; and et al, "A novel adaptation facilitates seed establishment under marine turbulent flows" (2019). VIMS Articles. 1814.