Annals of Botany

Comparison of winter and summer dormancy in herbaceous perennial species

Are winter and summer dormancy symmetrical seasonal adaptive strategies?

Dormancy in higher plants is an adaptive response enabling plant survival during the harshest seasons and has been more explored in woody species than in herbaceous species. Nevertheless, winter and summer shoot meristem dormancy are adaptive strategies that could play a major role in enhancing seasonal stress tolerance and resilience of widespread herbaceous plant communities.

Diagram of the annual phenology of herbaceous, temperate, perennial plants exhibiting either winter or summer dormancy. Research priorities on the eco-physiology of both types of dormancy in these model species: (1) to identify the thresholds of seasonal cues for induction/release; (2) to better understand biochemical regulations of dormancy; and (3) to explore the growth–stress survival trade-off.

This review article highlights research priorities such as the identification of seasonal factor thresholds and the analysis of biochemical compounds implicated in the dormancy modes of induction and release. Gilliespie and Volaire provide an overview of the growth-stress survival trade-offs inherent in summer and winter dormancy which reinforces the existing body of research on plant adaptations to extreme conditions under climate change.

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