a1 IRD, GeneTrop, BP 5045, 34032 Montpellier Cedex 1, France
a2 IPGRI, Via delle Sette Chiese 142, 00145 Rome,Italy
a3 CATIE, Apartado 59, 7170 Turrialba, Costa Rica
a4 IRD, BP 434 Man, Côte-d’lvoire
A broad variability for seed desiccation sensitivity, as quantified by the water content and the water activity at which half of the initial viability is lost, has been previously observed within nine African coffee species. In order to investigate if these different degrees of desiccation sensitivity correspond to an adaptive trait, additional data, such as the duration of seed development and seed water content at maturity, were measured for these species, and the relationships between these parameters and some climatic characteristics of their specific native environments were investigated. Since flowering in all coffee species occurs only a few days after the main rainfall marking the end of the dry season, simulations could be made, based on the continuous sequences of rainfall data compiled in databases of nine climatic stations, chosen for their appropriate location in the collecting areas. The simulations revealed a highly significant correlation between the duration of seed development and that of the wet season. Consequently, mature seeds are shed at the beginning of the following dry season. Moreover, the mean number of dry months that seeds have to withstand after shedding was significantly correlated with the parameters used to quantify seed desiccation sensitivity. By contrast, seed moisture content at maturity was not correlated with the level of seed desiccation tolerance. All these results are discussed on the basis of more detailed descriptions of the natural habitats of the coffee species studied.
(Received January 10 2000)
(Accepted May 09 2000)