Seed priming improves the germination and growth rate of melon seedlings under saline stress

ABSTRACT: The germination and growth of melon (Cucumis melo L.) plants can be severely affected by excess salts in the soil or irrigation water; however, negative effects of salt stress can be attenuated using appropriate methods of seed priming. Thus, effects of osmopriming as inducer of salt stress tolerance in melon seeds exposed to salinity levels were investigated in this study. Seeds were soaked for 22 h at 25 °C in the dark in distilled water (hydropriming) or 0.5% KNO3 solution (osmopriming), and after drying, were distributed in plastic boxes with blotter paper containing different NaCl solutions prepared with osmotic pressure of 0.0 MPa (control), -0.3 MPa (mild stress), and -0.6 MPa (severe stress). Unprimed dry seeds were taken as control. The plastic boxes were kept into a seed germinator, at 25 °C for 14 days. A completely randomized design in a 3 × 3 factorial schemes with four replicates of 25 seeds was used. Results showed that the seed priming with water and KNO3 may be successfully applied on melon seeds to alleviate the adverse effects of saline stress in initial stages of plant growth. However, under severe salt stress conditions, hydropriming should be used because it results in higher germination and initial growth rate of the seedlings when compared to the osmopriming. Use of unprimed seeds should not be adopted in cultivation areas affected by salinity because they result in low germination rate and reduced initial plant growth.