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Data from: Interspecific variation in persistence of buried weed seeds follows trade-offs among physiological, chemical and physical seed defenses

velvetleaf, giant ragweed, common waterhemp, kochia, common lambsquarters, ivyleaf morningglory, wild proso millet, Pennsylvania smartweed, giant foxtail, yellow foxtail, and field pennycress.

This dataset includes data on the chemical, physical and biological traits of weed seeds of 11 arable weed species in relation to the persistence of these seeds in the soil seedbank within a common-garden burial study. We performed a common garden weed seed burial study at the University of Illinois Crop Sciences Research and Education Center in Savoy, IL (40.048757 N, -88.237206 E), from October 2007 through October 2012. The experiment was arranged in a split-plot design with four replications of the sub-plot variable species nested within main plot variable burial duration (1 to 5 years). Eleven annual weed species were included, spanning a broad range of seed sizes, dormancy types and seedbank persistence: Abutilon theophrasti Medik (velvetleaf), Ambrosia trifida L. (giant ragweed), Amaranthus tuberculatus [Moq]. Sauer (common waterhemp), Bassia scoparia [L.] A. J. Scott (kochia), Chenopodium album L. (common lambsquarters), Ipomoea hederacea Jacq. (ivyleaf morningglory), Panicum miliaceum L. (wild proso millet), Polygonum pensylvanicum L. (Pennsylvania smartweed), Setaria faberi Herrm. (giant foxtail), Setaria pumila [Poir] Roem. (yellow foxtail) and Thlaspi arvense L. (field pennycress).

Weed seeds were collected in 2007 from the experimental site and adjoining fields by gently shaking mature inflorescences over a bucket and bulking seeds from multiple plants to form a composite sample for each species. Light seed were removed by processing with a seed cleaner, after which seeds were stored in air tight containers at 4C until burial. Immediately prior to burial, seed viability was assayed with tetrazolium. Burial units consisted of 100 seeds of a given species placed in the bottom of a 2.5 cm deep square tray, 10 cm on a side, made of 0.5 mm stainless steel wire mesh. Tray bottoms were permeable to water, but prevented seeds from escaping. Trays were filled 2 cm deep with soil from a nearby grass sward that had not been cropped for over 30 years, to avoid contamination with weed seeds (verified by elutriating samples of this soil). Within each experimental unit, we excavated a 2 cm deep rectangle 30 cm wide by 40 cm long, and placed trays for each of the 11 species side by side into this depression so that their soil surface was flush with the surrounding soil, leaving a 0.5 cm wire mesh lip exposed in each tray. Each experimental unit was covered by wire mesh with 1 cm square openings to permit access to invertebrate granivores. The study plot was fenced to exclude large vertebrates.

Seedling emergence was recorded weekly from March through October every year. Seed trays for a given burial duration treatment were removed in October of the assigned year and seeds recovered via elutriation (Wiles et al. 1996). Recovered seeds were incubated under oscillating temperature conditions (15 C/dark for 10 hr, 25 C/light for 14 hr) for 2 weeks and germination recorded. Ungerminated seeds assessed as viable through tetrazolium testing were considered dormant.

We measured chemical and physical seed traits on freshly collected seeds following the methods outlined in Tiansawat et al. (2014), using multiple measures of each trait class to provide functional redundancy and allow them to be treated as latent or manifest variables during multivariate analyses. For the chemical defense trait class we measured ortho-dihydroxyphenol (o-DHP) concentration, abundance and diversity of phenolic compounds quantified with high performance liquid chromatography, impact of seed homogenate on brine shrimp survival, and seed removal by invertebrate granivores. Physical traits measured included seed coat thickness, seed mass, and seed coat rupture force. Pairwise interspecific phylogenetic distances were quantified using the phydist subroutine of Phylocom 4.2 (www.phylodiversity.net). Also included is a list of references from the associated literature review.

Dataset Info

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Davis, Adam S.
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area
POINT (-88.237799406052 40.051227686518)
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
Urbana, IL
Temporal Coverage
Intended Use
These data were collected to help improve scientific understanding of the contribution of seed defense traits (including chemical, physical and biological seed characteristics) to the persistence of weed seeds in the soil seedbank. Addressing this knowledge gap is important for improved integrated weed management.
Use Limitations
These data were collected for a single accession of each weed species. There may be additional variation among accessions of individual species that is relevant to understanding the variation of seed persistence in the soil seedbank.
Ag Data Commons
Contact Name
Davis, Adam
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Primary Article

Davis, A. S., Fu, X., Schutte, B. J., Berhow, M. A. & Dalling, J. W. (2016). Interspecific variation in persistence of buried weed seeds follows trade-offs among physiological, chemical, and physical seed defenses. Ecology and Evolution, 6: 6836–6845. doi:10.1002/ece3.2415

Funding Source(s)
Agricultural Research Service
Dataset DOI (digital object identifier)
Program Code
005:037 - Department of Agriculture - Research and Education
Bureau Code
005:18 - Agricultural Research Service
Modified Date
Release Date
Ag Data Commons Keywords: 
  • Agroecosystems & Environment
  • Agricultural pests
  • Agroecosystems & Environment
  • Agroecosystems & Environment
  • Management
  • Plants & Crops
State or Territory: 
ISO Topic(s):