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Revista mexicana de ciencias agrícolas

versión impresa ISSN 2007-0934

Rev. Mex. Cienc. Agríc vol.7 spe 14 Texcoco feb./mar. 2016



Size - seed germination relationship in Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla King) in UMAF 2702ST Tenosique Sierra

Ángel Sol Sánchez1 

Héctor Javier Megía Vera1  § 

Julián Pérez Flores1 

Javier López Upton2 

1Colegio de Postgraduados-Campus Tabasco. Carretera Cárdenas Huimanguillo, km 3.5. Periférico Carlos A. Molina. s/n, A. P. 24 Cárdenas, Tabasco, México. C.P. 86500. (;

2Colegio de Postgraduados-Campus Montecillo. Carretera México-Texcoco km 36.5, Montecillo, Texcoco, Estado de México. C. P. 56230. (


The aim of this study was to measure mahogany seed size (Swietenia macrophylla King), and evaluate germination. The research was conducted in 2010 in the forest management unit (UMAF-2702ST) located in the region South Rivers from Tabasco. Seeds were collected from selected trees in the UMAF-2702ST Tenosique Sierra, Tabasco, Mexico. Length and width of the seed was determined through X-ray with a Faxitron (MX20, Faxitron X-ray Corporation, Wheeling, IL, USA), calibrated to 120 s and 26 kv power (kVp). Germination was performed on a programmable germination chamber at 30 ± 2 °C (C/N) and a photoperiod of 16 h light and 8 hours darkness and relative humidity at 75. The analysis of variance was performed by UMAF- 2702ST Tenosique Sierra communities as the dependent variable of collected seeds, and as an independent variable seed length and width; subsequently means test was applied through Tukey, with an alpha 0.05. Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated for the variables seed length, width and seed germination. Analysis of variance and correlation models were analyzed using the statistical package SAS using the procedures PROC GLM and CORR. The size of mahogany seeds gave a normal distribution according to Shapiro-Wilk test modified for seed length and width variables. The most common seed length was 16.5-18.5 mm from 119 seeds (28%) of the total. Germination was 100% in trees from Santo Tomas, of 63.3% in the tress from Boca del Cerro, while in trees from San Marcos there was no correlation between seed length and width with seed germination.

Keywords: germination; mahogany; seeds


El objetivo del presente trabajo fue medir las dimensiones de la semilla de caoba (Swietenia macrophylla King), y evaluar su germinación. La investigación se realizó en 2010, la unidad de manejo forestal (UMAF-2702ST) se ubicó en la región de los Ríos al Sur del estado de Tabasco. Las semillas se colectaron de árboles seleccionados en la UMAF-2702ST Sierra de Tenosique Tabasco, México. El largo y ancho de la semilla se determinó a través del equipo de Rayos-X Faxitron (MX-20, Faxitron X- ray Corporation, Wheeling, IL, USA), calibrado a 120 s y 26 kv de potencia (kVp). La germinación se realizó en una cámara germinadora programada a 30 ± 2 ºC (C/N) y un fotoperiodo de 16 h de luz por 8 h de oscuridad y a una humedad relativa del 75. Se realizó el análisis de varianza por comunidades de UMAF2702ST sierra de Tenosique como variable dependiente de las semillas colectadas, y como variable independiente la longitud y ancho de semilla, posteriormente se aplicó una prueba de medias según el procedimiento de Tukey, con un alfa al 0.05. Se calculó el coeficiente de correlación de Pearson entre las variables longitud, ancho de semilla y germinación de semilla. Los modelos de análisis de varianza y correlación fueron analizados en el paquete estadístico SAS utilizando los procedimientos PROC GLM y CORR. Las dimensiones de semillas de caoba reportaron una distribución normal, según la prueba de contraste shapiro wilk modificado para las variables longitud y ancho semilla. La longitud de semilla más frecuente fue de 16.5 - 18.5 mm con un registro de 119 semillas (28%) del total. La germinación fue de 100% en los árboles de Santo Tomás, de 63.3% en los árboles de Boca del cerro, mientras que en los árboles de San Marcos no hubo correlación entre el largo y ancho de semillas con la germinación.

Palabras clave: caoba; germinación; semillas


Swietenia macrophylla King is one of the most important forest species in Mexico and Central America; from the last century until today, mahogany, as is commonly known, has been one of the most important species for the development of the forest industry in Latin America (Patiño, 1997). For its commercial value, the natural populations of mahogany have been object of overexploitation, characterized for selective use of trees (Patiño, 1997). This prevents the regeneration of the species because seed sources are extracted (Toledo Sotillo and 2005).

Recently has increased the interest in the study and conservation of genetic variability and relationship between seed size and germination of mahogany as a result of high deforestation detected in the areas where the species are native (Newton et al., 1997). Most tropical forest species are propagated by seeds and its physiological and genetic quality significantly influences the success of plantations. The requirements to achieve successful regeneration of plantations are different. However, it is essential to preselect the most appropriate sources of germplasm of the species that are intended to spread, calculate the amount of seed for sowing and harvest the necessary fruits on the appropriate date.

Seed production varies from year to year. In addition, both number of seeds and fertility increases with the size of the trees. Trees above 30 cm in diameter is considered in reproductive capacity (Kometter, 2004), although the highest fertility is observed at 70 cm or more, being especially high in large trees whose crown occupies the upper canopy. Seed viability is also influenced by the genetic characteristics of the parent plant, weather conditions during flowering, formation, development and fruit maturation, maturity degree of the seed to harvest and handling and post-harvest (Carvalho and Nakagawa 1983; Hartmann and Kester 1987).

Although fruit morphology includes features that remain relatively constant within species not so with seed yield and efficiency of these to germinate and give rise to a new plant. These characteristics have variations between and within the parental sources which are determined by both its genetic component and vigor, as for climate and soil conditions of the growing sites, as well as the presence of pests and diseases (Leadem et al., 1984; Willan, 1991; Snook et al., 2005). Among the few studies that have been conducted in Mexico to know seed production of mahogany is the work from Gómez and Jasso (1995), who studied the morphological variation and existing seed content in fruit samples from natural populations and plantations in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Studies on morphological, genetic and physiological aspects as well as physical, biotic and ecological aspects of the species, useful to eliminate factors that limit their development and prevent the establishment represent a source of genetic material; also constitute the raw material for reforestation of disturbed areas. Therefore it is necessary that seeds pass through the germination process by which seedlings of certain quality will be obtained, partly by the biological quality of seed used (Correa, 1990) and partly by the conditions in which the germination process develops (Bewley, 1997).

It is noted that a larger seed tends to germinate quickly and to produce vigorous and larger seedlings, compared to a small seed which germinates more slowly, giving a weak and malformed seedling (Betancur, 1983), but this has not been proven for most tropical forest species. Due to the above, in recent years there has been an increased interest in learning, characterize and manage these resources (Pérez, 2000). Considering the above the present study was conducted to determine the relationship of seed size with germination in mahogany and from a selection study and phenotypic variation of mahogany.


Evaluate seed size and germination of mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla King), from the UMAF 2702ST, Sierra Tenosique Tabasco, Mexico.

Study area

This research was conducted in 2010. The forest management unit (UMAF-2702ST) is located in the region of the southern rivers from Tabasco, at 17° 13' 22'' and 17° 28' 34'' north latitude, 90° 57' 08'' and 91° 39' 02'' west longitude: bordered in the north by the municipality of Balancán, south with the state of Chiapas and the Republic of Guatemala, east with Guatemala, west with the municipalities of Emiliano Zapata, Tabasco and Chilon, Chiapas (Figure 1). It was formed by 43 communities, Arena de Hidalgo, Redencion del Campesino, Ignacio Allende, Alvaro Obregon, Rancho Grande and Lic. Adolfo Lopez Mateos are the largest population centers, but does not exceed 2 500 inhabitants (CONAPO, 2000).

Figure 1 Geographical location of the study area. 


According to Koeppen classification system, modified by Garcia (1964), the UMAF-2702ST has a warm humid climate with rainfall throughout the year identified as Af (m) w” (i') g, with an average annual rainfall higher than 2 000 mm, with dog days during the months of Julio-August .

Soils and topography

The predominant soils in the UMAF-2702ST are Fluvisols, Cambisols, Leptozols, Luvisols, Arenosols, Vertisols and Gleysols; likewise, the altitude varies from 200 to 1 000 masl (CONAFOR, 2011). This variation in altitude creates three physiographic areas. The mountain area is characterized by a landscape of domes and conical hills and uneven landform with altitude from 60 to 1 000 masl. The altitude increases as it moves towards south from the ejidos los Rieles de San José to the ejido de Corregidora Ortiz de Domínguez.

Lowhill area is characterized by having smooth hillocks from 20 to 60 masl; it has slopes that have favored superficial erosion problems. This area begins from ejido Redencion del Campesino, Francisco Villa, Ignacio Allende, to the ejido San Francisco which borders with the Republic of Guatemala. The valley area, is characterized for having a concave relief, this area is located in the lower parts of the UMAF-2702ST Sierra and corresponds to the ejidos San Carlos, Sueños de Oro, to the ejido Carlos Pellicer Camara.

Seed collection

The seeds used in this study were obtained from mahogany fruits harvested in the UMAF-2702ST; the fruits were obtained from trees with higher phenotypic characteristics Straightness, live crown base, Crown Length and Health, two fruits of the middle part from the crown were collected, from each of the five phenotypically outstanding trees. The fruits were transported in Kraft paper bags, to the germplasm bank from CONAFOR Tabasco. For the benefit, the fruits were placed in partial shade during 3 days for 4 h and waited for fruit to open.

Seed characterization

Length and width of the seeds were determined through X-ray Faxitron (MX-20, Faxitron X-ray Corporation, Wheeling, IL, USA), calibrated to 120 s and 26 kv power ( kVp) (Goodman et al., 2005) (Figure 2). Then proceeded to plant 30 seeds in germination trays of 18 x 12.5 cm; three trays per tree (90 seeds) were placed. The substrate was sand in disinfected in furnace Fischer Scientific® series 500, at 150 °C for 2 h (ISTA, 1996). The trays were placed in a germinating Seedburo® make, model MPG-300 programmed at 30 ± 2 °C and a photoperiod of 16 hours light and 8 hours dark, relative humidity of 75%.

Figure 2 Frequency histogram from mahogany seed size. 

The germination capacity was made for 15 days, assessed every 15 days from the twentieth day when it appeared the first radicle, and until 60 days that is the maximum time reported for seed germination in this species. The germination percentage was evaluated to determine the relationship between size and seed germination.

Statistic analysis

The data for each variable were examined through ShapiroWilk test modified to determine its normal distribution and homogeneity of variances required for analysis of variance (ANOVA). ANOVA was conducted taking the communities from UMAF-2702ST as dependent variables from collected seeds, and as an independent variable seed length and width; then a mean test was applied, Tukey with an alpha 0.05. Pearson correlation coefficient between the variables seed length, width and seed germination was calculated. Descriptive statistics were calculated and made frequency histograms for each variable, which were analyzed with SAS.

Mahogany seed size gave a normal distribution. The most common seed length was 16.5 - 18.5 mm with a record from 119 seeds (28%) of the total; seed width had a similar behavior to length, while class interval between 8.59-9.49 mm was the most frequent with 138 seeds (33%) of the total (Figure 2).

As shown in Table 1, the highest values of seed length and width were found in San Marcos (SM) and Santo Tomas 2 (ST2), respectively, while the minimum in Santo Tomas (ST). Also, it was observed a CV lower to (13%), for each of the variables evaluated.

Table 1 Descriptive statistics for mahogany seed size, collected in communities from UMAF-2702ST. 

Comunidades de la UMAF-2702ST. Longitud de semilla (L); ancho de semilla (A).

Based on square means and means comparison test, there were statistically significant differences for the variables seed length and width, being for both treatments "Francisco Villa" and "San Marcos" the ones with higher average length and width (Table 2).

Table 2 Descriptive statistics of seed size with seed germination for mahogany. 

Comunidades de la UMAF-2702ST. N= 90.


As shown in Table 1, the highest values for mahogany seed germination were collected in Boca del cerro (BC), Santo Tomás 2 (ST2) and San Marcos (SM) respectively, while the minimum germination was found in Francisco villa (BC) (Table 1). Table 2. Only shows one variable.

As for seed germination, mean squares showed statistical different between origins. Based on means comparison, the F test indicated statistical differences in germination among origins for all three sampling dates (p= 0.0008, 0.002 and 0.004, respectively). The seeds from Santo Tomás showed a good germination response to the first sampling date. For the second date, the same trend continued for the last date of evaluation. On this date, the seed from Boca del Cerro just reached 63% germination (Figure 3).

Figure 3 Mahogany germination percentage from five sources. 

Boca del Cerro (BC), Francisco Villa (FV), San Marcos (SM), Santo Tomas (ST) communities from UMAF-2702ST.

Seed size and seed germination did not correlate. Similarly, there was no correlation between seed length and width (r2= 0.9, p= 0.009).


Higher values of seed length and width were found in the ejidos San Marcos (22.43 - 10.89) and Santo Tomás 2 (20.58 - 9.27) respectively, while the lowest in Santo Tomás (17.89 - 8.36). The seed from Santo Tomas showed up to 100% germination, there was no significant correlation between seed size and germination.

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Received: November 2015; Accepted: March 2016

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