Seed germination of three endangered subspecies of Discocactus Pfeiff. (Cactaceae) in response to environmental factors
Abstract: Temperature, light, water availability and excessive salt in the soil are among the abiotic factors that most influence the germination process in semiarid ecosystems. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of these abiotic factors on seed germination in three subspecies of cactus: Discocactus bahiensis, D. zehntneri subsp. petr-halfarii and D. zehntneri subsp. zehntneri. Seeds were set for germination under two light conditions (12-h light/dark photoperiod and continuous darkness) and 10 temperature treatments [eight constant temperatures (10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 °C) and two alternating temperatures (30 to 20 °C and 35 to 25 °C)]. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) 6000 and sodium chloride (NaCl) were used to simulate water and saline stress, respectively, with the following osmotic potentials: 0.0, -0.2, -0.4, -0.6, -0.8 and -1.0 MPa. Three subspecies were positive photoblastic. The optimum temperature for germination was 25 to 35 ºC for D. bahiensis and D. zehntneri subsp. zehntneri, and 30 to 35 ºC for D. zehntneri subsp. petr-halfarii. The seeds of all three subspecies exhibited tolerance to water and saline stress, as germination was observed at potentials for up to -0.6 MPa in the PEG and NaCl solutions.