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Salinity is among the most severe and widespread environmental constrains to global crop production, especially in arid and semi-arid climates and negatively affecting productivity of salt sensitive crop species. Breeding and selection of salt tolerant crop varieties is therefore necessary for sustainable plant productivity. Given that germination and seeding phases are the most critical phase in the plant life cycle, this study aimed to evaluate seed germination potential and associated traits under salt stress conditions as a simple approach to identify salt tolerant sorghum varieties [Gadam, Sc Sila and Serena] which are adaptated to various agroecological regions. Salinity stress was applied by addition of NaCl at three different levels of stress [100, 200 and 300 mM NaCl], while plants irrigated with water were used as control. Evaluation of tolerance was performed on the basis of germination percentage, shoot and seed water absorbance, shoot and root length, leave water content, seedling total chlorophyll content and morphologic abnormality. Our results showed that salinity stress significantly impacts all features associated with germination and early development of seedlings. Our results indicated that salinity stress substantially affects all traits associated with germination and early seedling growth, with the effect of salinity being dependent on the variety used and level of salinity stress applied. Among the tested sorghum varieties, Gadam was established to the most salt tolerant variety, suggesting its potential use for cultivation under salinity stress conditions as well as its suitability for use as germplasm material in future sorghum breeding programmes. For a greater insight into comprehensive mechanisms of salinity tolerance in sorghum, we suggest further research on genomic and molecular analysis.
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