Some seeds do not germinate when they are exposed to light. To understand the evolution of photoinhibition, Vandelook et al. analyse how this trait relates to habitat preference, local climate conditions, seed traits and temperature conditions during germination.
A dataset of germination responses in light and darkness of about 150 Liliod monocots is compiled and interpreted within a phylogenetic framework. Closely related species show a similar germination response to light. Photoinhibition is shown to correlate with plant traits, namely seed coat colour, seed mass and plant height, and is also linked to levels of habitat light and moisture.