As maize is a chilling-sensitive crop, low temperatures during the early stages of development can be injurious to crop growth and development. Prime mechanism behind chilling-induced damage is oxidative stress. This study was undertaken to improve the chilling tolerance in hybrid maize by seed priming with KCl. For priming, seeds of the maize hybrid Hycorn 8288 were soaked in 50, 100 and 150 mg l-1 aerated solution of KCl for 24 h and then re-dried close to original weight. Primed and untreated seeds were sown at 27°C (optimal temperature) and at 15°C (chilling stress) under controlled conditions. Seed priming improved the performance of maize under both normal and stress conditions. It was found that the chilling tolerance in maize is well associated with the enhanced capacity of the anti-oxidative system. Priming with KCl significantly improved the chilling tolerance mainly by the activation of antioxidants including catalase, superoxide dismutase and ascorbate peroxidase enzymes. KCl treatments also improved the germination rate and time, root and shoot length, and fresh and dry weights of seedlings compared with control. Soluble sugars and α-amylase activity determined as general metabolic indicators of stress were also improved by seed priming with KCl. Other possible bases of chilling tolerance in maize included maintenance of high tissue water contents, reduced electrolyte leakage and carbohydrate metabolism. Seed treatment with 100 mg l-1 KCl was the best treatment to improve the performance of hybrid maize both under normal and chilling stress conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas