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Effects of salinity and nitrate on production and germination of dimorphic seeds applied both through the mother plant and exogenously during germination in Suaeda salsa

Song, Jie, Zhou, Jiachao, Zhao, Weiwei, Xu, Hualing, Wang, Fengxia, Xu, Yange, Wang, Lei, Tian, Changyan
Plant species biology 2016 v.31 no.1 pp. 19-28
Suaeda, environmental factors, germination, greenhouses, habitats, halophytes, nitrate nitrogen, nitrates, nitrogen, plant cultural practices, potassium, salinity, seeds, sodium, sodium chloride
Salinity and nitrogen are two important environmental factors that affect the distribution of halophytes in their natural saline habitats. Seeds of the euhalophyte Suaeda salsa L. were harvested from plants that had been treated with 1 or 500 mm NaCl combined with 0.5 or 5 mm NO₃ ⁻‐N (nitrate) for 115 days in a glasshouse. Germination was evaluated under different concentrations of NaCl and nitrate. Plants exposed to high salinity (500 mm) and low nitrate (0.5 mm) tended to produce heavy seeds. Either high salinity (500 mm) or high nitrate (5 mm) increased the brown/black seed ratio. The concentrations of Na⁺, K⁺, and Cl⁻ were higher in brown than in black seeds, and NO₃ ⁻ concentrations were higher in black than in brown seeds, regardless of NaCl and nitrate treatments during plant culture. Regardless of NaCl and nitrate concentrations during germination, seeds from plants grown with 0.5 mm nitrate generally germinated more rapidly than seeds from plants grown with 5 mm nitrate, and the difference was greater for black than for brown seeds. Exogenous nitrate during germination enhanced the germination of brown seeds less than that of black seeds. Producing more brown seeds and heavy black or brown seeds appears to be an adaptation of S. suaeda to saline environments. Producing more black seeds, which tend to remain dormant, should reduce competition for nitrogen and appears to be an adaptation to nitrogen‐limited environments. In conclusion, nitrate provided exogenously or by mother plants to black seeds may act as a signal molecule that enhances the germination of black S. suaeda seeds.