Increasing NaCl levels retarded the net photosynthetic rate, biosynthesis of photosynthetic pigments and membrane integrity of maize and sunflower seedlings; a serious effect was exhibited when NaCl was applied at high concentration. On the other hand, the K
efflux increased at increasing NaCl levels. In addition, the various salt levels induced considerable variations in the concentrations of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The vitamins applied were generally effective in partially or completely countering the inhibitory effects of salt stress on net photosynthetic rate, pigments biosynthesis and membrane integrity, exerting a stimulatory action on these parameters, especially in plants subjected to moderate and low salinity levels. The leakage of K
was reduced by the application of both ascorbic acid (AsA) and thiamine (B
). Soaking the seeds of salt-stressed plants in AsA or B
had a favourable effect on the accumulation of certain ions and antagonized or ameliorated the inhibitory effect of salt stress.
Concerns about the vulnerability of agricultural production to climate change are increasing. The establishment of seedlings at early growth stages of crop plants, one of the most important determinants of high yield, is severely affected by extreme temperatures. Therefore, efforts must be made to achieve high germination rate and vigorous early growth under extreme temperature conditions.Alfalfa is a perennial forage crop with high yield, good quality and high protein content, but is frequently exposed to extreme temperature conditions. The primary purpose of this investigation was to test the hypothesis that L-ascorbic acid (AsA) and pyridoxine (B6) pretreatment can completely or partially alleviate the effect of extreme temperature stress on seed germination and other physiological activities of alfalfa seedlings. Such treatment could be of importance for the establishment of alfalfa seedlings under temperature conditions colder or hotter than the optimum.Several parameters were studied in alfalfa seedlings primed before germination with 50 ppm ascorbic acid or 50 ppm pyridoxine for 6 h and then subjected to various temperatures (10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40°C) for 7 days.The germination percentage of alfalfa seeds was negatively affected by extreme temperature. The vitamin treatments failed to alleviate the depressive effect of extreme temperature stress on seed germination. Extreme temperature also induced a reduction in the growth, total water content and respiration rate of alfalfa seedlings. Seed soaking in vitamins modified the stress-induced changes in respiration rate and growth criteria. Temperatures above or below the optimum stimulated the accumulation of soluble carbohydrates in alfalfa seedlings. Treatment with AsA or B6 partially or completely retarded the stimulatory effects of extreme temperature on soluble carbohydrate accumulation in the seedlings except in the case of 40 °C, where a significant stimulation was detected. However, extreme temperature stress and its interactive effects with AsA or B6 induced an inhibitory effect on the accumulation of free amino acids and soluble proteins in the test seedlings.