Row crops represent the most important crops in terms of global cultivated area. Such crops include soybean, corn, wheat, rice, rapeseed, sunflower, and cotton. Row crops agriculture is generally an intensive system of farming used to obtain high yields by employing elevated quantities of organic and mineral fertilizers. Considering this, and the decrease in area of arable land, it becomes crucial to ensure high yield and quality using alternative strategies, such as the use of plant biostimulants. These compounds are increasingly recognized as sustainable solution to optimize nutrient uptake, crop yield, quality, and tolerance to abiotic stresses. In this work, by means of high-throughput plant phenotyping, we evaluated the effectiveness of a set of three new foliar biostimulant prototypes (coded as 52096, 52097, 52113) applied on corn and soybean at application rates 2.5 and 5 mL/L (corresponding to 1 and 2 L/ha respectively). This allowed us to select the most effective prototype (52097, commercial name “YieldOn®
”) in increasing digital biovolume (DB) and greener area (GGA) either in soybean (both application rates) or corn (rate 5 mL/L) and decreasing Stress Index (SI) in soybean (both application rates). Molecular mechanism of action of selected prototype 52097 was subsequently characterized through Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). In corn, genes involved in hormone (cytokinin and auxin) metabolism/catabolism, maltose biosynthesis, sugar transport and phloem loading were upregulated after application of prototype 52097. In soybean, genes involved in nitrogen metabolism, metal ion transport (mainly zinc and iron), sulfate reduction, and amino acid biosynthesis were induced. The proposed approach supports the integration of multiple omics to open new perspectives in the discovery, evaluation, and development of innovative and sustainable solutions to meet the increasing needs of row-crops agriculture.
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