Abiotic stress is a major threat to the farming community, biasing the crop productivity in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. The seed is an important component of agriculture, contributing significantly to the booming production of food and feed crops across the different agro-ecological regions of the world with constant challenges with reference to production, storage, and quality control. Germination, plant growth, and development via non-normal physiological processes are detrimentally affected by stress. Seed priming is an alternative, low cost, and feasible technique, which can improve various abiotic stress tolerances through enhanced and advanced seed production. Seed priming is a process that involves imbibing seed with a restricted amount of water to allow sufficient hydration and advancement of metabolic processes but preventing germination. The beneficial influence of priming on the germination performance of diverse species is attributed to the induction of biochemical mechanisms of cell repair: the resumption of metabolic activity that can re-impose cellular integrity, through the synthesis of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and proteins and the improvement of the antioxidant defense system metabolic damage incurred by dry seed and thus fortifying the metabolic machinery of the seed. With this background, this chapter highlights the morphological, physiological, biochemical, and molecular responses of seed priming and recent advances in priming methods as a tool to combat abiotic stress in crop plants.
Part of the book: Plant Stress Physiology