On seed physiology, biomechanics and plant phenology in Eragrostis tef

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


• Key words: Teff (Eragrostis tef (Zuccagni) Trotter), germination, temperature, model, leaf appearance, phyllochron, development rate, lodging, biomechanics, safety factor, flowering, heading, day length, photoperiod.

• Background Teff (Eragrostis tef (Zuccagni) Trotter) is a C4 annual grass species (Poaceae) originating from Ethiopia. Teff cultivation in the Netherlands is thought to be economically feasible because teff grains and flour do not contain gluten and are rich in iron. These two characteristics make teff a desirable ingredient in health products, particularly for celiac disease patients. At the start of this project Dutch teff yields were modest (1.0 - 1.5 Mg•ha-1). The sowing and harvest dates were (too) late in the season and the crop was sensitive to lodging. Here, lodging is defined as the permanent displacement of shoots from their vertical due to root or shoot failure.

• The objective of this research is to detail some processes that underlie the sensitivity to lodging and the late harvest. Therefore we studied seed germination, lodging resistance, day length response, pace of leaf appearance.

• Germination of teff can be described by assuming a normally distributed rate of germination within the seed population. Minimal and maximal temperatures required for germination depend on water availability (water potential). Conversely, the minimal required water potential for germination depends on temperature.

• Lodging was inevitable for teff grown on a Dutch sandy soil. We identified that not only the shoots of teff are prone to lodging, but that the roots are also a major factor in the lodging process. Furthermore, water adhering to the shoots alone, without wind action, could induce lodging in the studied cultivars.

• Flowering in teff is significantly delayed by exposure to long days. Teff is therefore a short day plant; not only panicle initiation, but also development and outgrowth of the panicle were influenced by photoperiod.

• Phyllochron, defined as the time required between the appearance of two successive teff leaves, increased abruptly for the last few leaves on the main stem of teff. After re-evaluation of literature data this abrupt increase in phyllochron seemed to be also present in both wheat and rice. The delay is most likely independent of temperature, but might be related to the moment of panicle initiation.

• In conclusion, the study on teff identified clear targets for breeding towards a high-yielding cultivar in the Netherlands.


Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Struik, Paul, Promotor
  • Vos, Jan, Co-promotor
  • Stomph, Tjeerd-Jan, Promotor
Award date14 Jun 2011
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789085859444
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • eragrostis
  • eragrostis tef
  • cultivation
  • plant physiology
  • biomechanics
  • seed germination
  • lodging
  • harvesting


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