Impact of Mother Plant Saline Stress on the Agronomical Qualityof Pepper Seeds
Seed quality has been an important factor in achieving high germination and uniform growth rates in agricultural crops.Meanwhile, pepper plants are moderately sensitive to salt stress at electrical conductivity (EC) in the nutrient solution in therange of 1.2–3.0 dS m−1. We are unaware of any studies regarding the effects of mother plant saline stress on the agronomicalquality of pepper seeds. We assessed the effects of three levels of electrical conductivity of the nutrient solution used for motherplant fertigation (2.2, 3.5, and 4.5 dS m−1) on the agronomical quality of pepper seeds (Capsicum annuumL. var. CaliforniaWonder). We have analyzed the following seed quality traits: (1) size and weight of seeds and number of seeds per fruit, (2) seedgermination and vigor, and (3) chemical composition and histological features of mature seeds. The electrical conductivitytreatment of 3.5 dS m−1caused a statistically significant reduction in the seed size and vigor, as well as partial histologicaldamage to seed endosperm. Moreover, the electrical conductivity treatment of 4.5 dS m−1caused further reduction in the seedagronomical quality and generalized histological damage to seed endosperm. The electrical conductivity of the nutrient solutionused for the fertigation of mother pepper plants should be below 3.5 dS m−1. Future studies should be performed to better gaugethe effect of nutrient solutions with electrical conductivity in the range of 2.2–3.5 dS m−1on the seed quality traits.