The role of seed priming in improving seed germination and seedling growth of maize (Zea mays L.) under salt stress at laboratory conditions
Salinity is considered as a major abiotic stress affecting germination, seedling growth and crop production in arid and semi-arid regions. Many techniques are used to improve tolerance to salinity. Priming is believed to be an effective technique that increases germination, plant growth and improve yield of several vegetables and crops under saline soil condition. The objective of this study was to see the effect of seed priming with 5 g/L NaCl on germination and seedling growth of maize (<i>Zea mays</i> L.) exposed to five salinity levels under laboratory conditions. Maize seeds were soaked in solutions of NaCl (5 g/L) for 12 h at room temperature. Primed and unprimed seeds were sown in Petri dishes and were irrigated with saline solutions of five concentrations (0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 g/l NaCl). Priming seeds with NaCl significantly improved (P<0.05) germination and growth of maize. As a result, fresh and dry weights of shoot and root were improved. Seed priming alleviated the inhibitory effect of salt stress on germination and seedling growth of maize under salt stress. Thus, seed priming with 5 g/l NaCl could be used to improve germination and early growth. Further, this study needs to be continued if performance of mature maize plants could also be improved and yield increased by sowing primed seeds in saline soils.
Key words: Maize, salinity, seed germination, seed priming, seedling growth.