Comparative analysis of seed size, germination, and vegetative allocation in annual and herbaceous perennial crops and their wild relatives in Lupinus and Phaseolus (Fabaceae)
Abstract, bioRxiv, 2019
Herbaceous perennial species are receiving increased attention for their potential to provide both edible products and ecosystem services in agricultural systems. Many legumes (Fabaceae Lindl.) are of special interest due to nitrogen fixation carried out by bacteria in their roots and their production of protein-rich, edible seeds. However, herbaceous perennial legumes have yet to enter widespread use as pulse crops, and the response of wild, herbaceous, perennial species to artificial selection for increased seed yield remains under investigation. Here we compare cultivated and wild accessions of congeneric annual and herbaceous perennial legume species to investigate associations of lifespan and cultivation with seed size, germination, and first year vegetative growth patterns, and to characterize covariation among traits. We use “cultivated” to describe accessions with a history of human planting and use, which encompasses a continuum of domestication. Analyses focused on three annual and eight perennial Lupinus species, and three annual and four perennial Phaseolus species. We found a significant association of both lifespan and cultivation status with seed size (weight, area, length), germination proportion, node number, stem diameter, shoot dry mass, and root dry mass. Wild seed size was greater in annuals for Lupinus and greater for perennials in Phaseolus. Germination was lower in wild perennials than wild annuals in both genera, and vegetative allocation was roughly equivalent across lifespans in wild Phaseolus. Relative to wild forms, both cultivated annual and cultivated perennial accessions exhibited greater seed size, lower germination proportion, and larger overall plant size. Seed size traits were positively correlated with vegetative growth traits, and all biomass traits examined here were positively correlated. This study highlights some basic similarities and differences between annual and herbaceous perennial legumes, and provides insights into how perennial legumes might respond to artificial selection compared to annual species.