Leymus chinensis has important forage value and is considered a useful grass species for grassland restoration in Northeast China. However, little information exists concerning the germination responses of this species to interactions of cold stratification, light, temperature and low water potential caused by salinity and drought. Experiments were conducted in growth chambers, and the results showed that in all conditions of light, temperature and water stresses, the germination percentages of cold-stratified seeds were higher than of non-stratified seeds. Light had an inhibitory effect on germination percentage under both non-saline and salt stress conditions; darkness is beneficial for germination of this species. In addition, seeds germinated much better under alternating temperature regimes than under constant temperatures. Both salt and drought stresses decreased the germination percentage of Leymus chinensis, but the reductions under drought stress were much greater. Moreover, after being transferred to distilled water, most non-germinated seeds under drought stress germinated well, and the total percentage reached that of the non-saline condition level. Therefore, cold stratification is an effective measure to increase seed germination and salt or drought tolerance, especially in darkness. We conclude that Leymus chinensis has definite salt and drought tolerance during the germination stage and it is a promising species for the restoration of deteriorated grassland in Northeast China.
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Vol. 68 • No. 2