"Having the capacity to fine-tune their development to the environment seems to be crucial for diversification, de Casas noted."
London, April 20 - Plants with the ability to regulate the timing of germination in response to environmental cues are more likely to spin off new species and are better at dealing with weather threats from climate change.
Plants whose seeds put off sprouting until conditions are more certain give rise to more species, a study said.
Plants whose seeds have since lost the ability may be prone to extinction under future climate change, especially if the timing of sprouting is no longer in tune with their environment, said Rafael Rubio de Casas from Universidad of Granada in Spain.
Seed dormancy may help plants colonise new environments by preventing new arrivals from sprouting under conditions or at times of year when the probability of seedling survival is low, said the study.
For the study, the researchers analysed seed dormancy data for more than 14,000 species of trees, shrubs, vines and herbs from across the globe.
Having the capacity to fine-tune their development to the environment seems to be crucial for diversification, de Casas noted.
The results suggest that even the earliest seeds had this ability, said the study that appeared in the journal New Phytologist.