This study was conducted to evaluate the influence of brassinosteroid (24-epibrassinolide, EBL) seed priming and optimal nitrogen (N) supply in improving salt tolerance in soybean. The experimental treatments were (a) control (nutrient solution without N and without EBL priming), (b) nutrient solution without N and EBL seed priming, (c) N supplemented nutrient solution without EBL priming and (d) EBL seed priming + N supplemented nutrient solution under optimal (0 mM NaCl) and salt stress (0 mM NaCl) conditions. Salt stress caused significant reduction in growth and biomass accumulation of soybean. However, EBL seed priming and application of N improved the soybean performance under optimal and salt stress conditions. In this regard, treatments receiving both EBL and N were more effective. EBL priming and N, alone and in combination, triggered the accumulation of osmolytes including proline, glycine betaine and sugars resulting in better photo-protection through maintenance of tissue water content. Antioxidant activity and osmolyte accumulation significantly increased due to combined treatment of N and EBL under normal as well as salt stress conditions. In conclusion, salt stress caused reduction in growth and biomass soybean due to oxidative damage and osmotic stresses. However, soybean performance was improved by seed priming with EBL. Supplementation of N further improved the effectiveness of EBL treatment in improving salt tolerance in soybean.
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