Seed dispersal of wild radishes and its association with within-population spatial distribution

J. Ziffer-Berger, Y. Waitz, E. Behar, O. Ben Joseph, L. Bezalel, H. Wasserstrom, P. K. Bajpai, S. Bhattacharya, F. Przesdzink, E. Westberg, K. Mummenhoff, O. Barazani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The wild radishes, Raphanus raphanistrum and R. pugioniformis (Brassicaceae) are native to the East Mediterranean region. However, whereas R. raphanistrum is widely distributed worldwide, the endemic R. pugioniformis is limited to specific habitats. In R. raphanistrum the diaspores of the indehiscent fruits comprise glabrous, light, single-seeded segments, whereas the intact fruits of R. pugioniformis are heavy and covered with spiny backward-pointing trichomes. We aimed to investigate whether the structure of the diaspores was directly associated with long- and short-range dispersal in R. raphanistrum and R. pugioniformis, respectively. We further surveyed within-population spatial distributions, to test the hypothesis that short- and long-range dispersal contribute to a patchy vs. uniform distribution patterns of R. pugioniformis and R. raphanistrum, respectively. Results: The results indicated that dispersal by wind and run-off water was substantially lower for diaspores of R. pugioniformis than for those of R. raphanistrum diaspores. Supporting the hypothesis that backward-pointing trichomes promote adherence to soil particles, the displacement on soil surface of R. pugioniformis fruits depended on their orientation relative to wind direction. Furthermore, trichome removal from fruits of R. pugioniformis significantly reduced wind velocity needed to remove fruits that were placed on soils typical of the species' natural habitats. The spatial-distribution survey results indicated a patchy distribution of R. pugioniformis populations as compared with the more uniform arrangement in the studied populations of R. raphanistrum; consistent with the unidirectional vs. homogeneous wind dispersal of the respective diaspores, with respect to wind direction. In addition, R. pugioniformis population sizes changed less between years than those of R. raphanistrum. Conclusions: Overall, our results indicate that fruit structure is strongly linked to dispersal ability and spatial distribution of the two closely related wild radish species. Whereas R. raphanistrum inhabits homogenous sandy soil habitats, the distribution range of R. pugioniformis includes heterogeneous environments in which growth niches are scarcer. We suggest that the different modes of dispersal have evolved as adaptive traits appropriate to the species' specific habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalBMC Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 May 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the German Research Foundation’s (DFG) trilat‑ eral program (Grant no. MU 1137/16‑2).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Anemochory
  • Dispersal
  • Hydrochory
  • Indehiscent fruits
  • Long- vs. short-range dispersal


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