Plant Biostimulants: Exploring Sustainable Sources and their Applications in Agriculture Production

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Phytochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2024 | Viewed by 3919

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 3201, South Africa
Interests: microalgae cultivation; phytohormones; biostimulants; bioactive compounds from algae

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Intensive agricultural practices use synthetic agrochemicals to maximize crop yields and protect plants against abiotic and biotic stresses. Their long-term use can lead to environmental problems such as soil salinization and the eutrophication of water systems. It is also harmful to beneficial soil microbial communities. Efforts are underway to develop more environmentally friendly natural biostimulants with lower environmental impacts to replace these synthetic agrochemicals.

Sources of plant biostimulants include a variety of organic and inorganic substances, natural compounds, and/or beneficial microorganisms such as algae and plant extracts, humic acids, protein hydrolysates, and endophytic fungi. Applying plant biostimulants is an effective strategy to enhance sustainable development practices. The effects of plant biostimulants include increasing the efficiency of plant uptake and utilizing nutrients, tolerance to abiotic stresses, and ultimately improving the quality of agricultural products.

This Special Issue welcomes articles (original research articles and reviews) that explore the sources of plant biostimulants; elaborate on different sources of plant biostimulants to optimize crop growth under stressful environments (including drought, nutrient deficiencies, heavy metal contamination, toxicity, and flooding); and application of plant biostimulants in nutrient efficiency, sustainable agricultural production, and regulation of microbial population quantity and quality.

Dr. Wendy Ann Stirk
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • mass culture optimization
  • extract formulation and standardization
  • active compounds
  • modes of action
  • physiological responses
  • plant protection
  • biocontrol agents
  • synergism with other biostimulants
  • seed priming
  • post-harvest storage

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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17 pages, 1944 KiB  
Article
An Evaluation of the Effectivity of the Green Leaves Biostimulant on Lettuce Growth, Nutritional Quality, and Mineral Element Efficiencies under Optimal Growth Conditions
by Santiago Atero-Calvo, María José Izquierdo-Ramos, Carmen García-Huertas, Miguel Rodríguez-Alcántara, Iván Navarro-Morillo and Eloy Navarro-León
Plants 2024, 13(7), 917; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13070917 - 22 Mar 2024
Viewed by 515
Abstract
The use of biostimulants is becoming a useful tool for increasing crop productivity while enhancing nutritional quality. However, new studies are necessary to confirm that the joint application of different types of biostimulants, together with bioactive compounds, is effective and not harmful to [...] Read more.
The use of biostimulants is becoming a useful tool for increasing crop productivity while enhancing nutritional quality. However, new studies are necessary to confirm that the joint application of different types of biostimulants, together with bioactive compounds, is effective and not harmful to plants. This study examined the impact of applying the biostimulant Green Leaves, comprising Macrocystis algae extract and containing a mixture of amino acids, corn steep liquor extract, calcium, and the bioactive compound glycine betaine. The effect of applying two different doses (3 and 5 mL L−1) of this biostimulant was evaluated on lettuce plants, and growth and quality parameters were analyzed along with photosynthetic efficiency, nutritional status, and nutrient efficiency parameters. The application of Green Leaves improved plant weight (25%) and leaf area and enhanced the photosynthetic rate, the accumulation of soluble sugars and proteins, and the agronomic efficiency of all essential nutrients. The 3 mL L−1 dose improved the nutritional quality of lettuce plants, improving the concentration of phenolic compounds and ascorbate and the antioxidant capacity and reducing NO3 accumulation. The 5 mL L−1 dose improved the absorption of most nutrients, especially N, which reduced the need for fertilizers, thus reducing costs and environmental impact. In short, the Green Leaves product has been identified as a useful product for obtaining higher yield and better quality. Full article
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11 pages, 278 KiB  
Article
Assessment of the Effect of Treating ‘GiSelA 5’ Softwood Cuttings with Biostimulants and Synthetic Auxin on Their Root Formation and Some of Their Physiological Parameters
by Sławomir Świerczyński
Plants 2023, 12(3), 658; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12030658 - 02 Feb 2023
Viewed by 953
Abstract
The ‘GiSelA 5’ rootstock is of high importance for growing sweet cherries because it significantly reduces the growth vigour of the trees and accelerates their fruiting. However, the method of its propagation using ‘in vitro’ cultures is expensive, prompting researchers to look for [...] Read more.
The ‘GiSelA 5’ rootstock is of high importance for growing sweet cherries because it significantly reduces the growth vigour of the trees and accelerates their fruiting. However, the method of its propagation using ‘in vitro’ cultures is expensive, prompting researchers to look for alternative methods of propagation. One of these is the root formation in shoot cuttings. The experiment presented in this paper compared the use of powdered synthetic auxins (Rhizopon AA, Ukorzeniacz AB) and their alcoholic solution (IAA, IBA), and the biostimulants Goteo and Bispeed as foliar sprays for root formation in softwood cuttings ‘GiSelA 5’ and measured some parameters of physiological processes. In addition, two different substrates of river sand with peat (1:2) and peat substrate with perlite (2:1) were used. Cuttings were obtained on two dates, in the first and third years in the month of June. Biostimulants increased the number of rooted cuttings (Goteo—16.1%, Bispeed—18.1%) without improving their growth and the intensity of most of the analyzed physiological processes compared to the control. Synthetic preparations also increased the percentage of rooted cuttings Rhizopon AA (24.4%), Ukorzeniacz AB (21.4%), auxin IBA (19.7%) and auxin IAA (14.7%), while simultaneously improving their growth and level of vital processes compared to the controls and biostimulants. The substrate consisting of peat with sand improved root formation by 6.2%, without significantly changing the growth parameters and vital functions of the cuttings. The earlier date of propagation increased the root formation percentage only by 4% and the number of roots by 14% of the ‘GiSelA 5’ rootstock cuttings. Full article

Review

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26 pages, 1317 KiB  
Review
A Comprehensive Review of Microalgae and Cyanobacteria-Based Biostimulants for Agriculture Uses
by Amer Chabili, Farah Minaoui, Zineb Hakkoum, Mountasser Douma, Abdelilah Meddich and Mohammed Loudiki
Plants 2024, 13(2), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13020159 - 06 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1869
Abstract
Significant progress has been achieved in the use of biostimulants in sustainable agricultural practices. These new products can improve plant growth, nutrient uptake, crop yield and quality, stress adaptation and soil fertility, while reducing agriculture’s environmental footprint. Although it is an emerging market, [...] Read more.
Significant progress has been achieved in the use of biostimulants in sustainable agricultural practices. These new products can improve plant growth, nutrient uptake, crop yield and quality, stress adaptation and soil fertility, while reducing agriculture’s environmental footprint. Although it is an emerging market, the biostimulant sector is very promising, hence the increasing attention of the scientific community and agro-industry stakeholders in finding new sources of plant biostimulants. Recently, pro- and eucaryotic microalgae have gained prominence and can be exploited as biostimulants due to their ability to produce high-value-added metabolites. Several works revealed the potential of microalgae- and cyanobacteria-based biostimulants (MCBs) as plant growth promoters and stress alleviators, as well as encouraging results pointing out that their use can address current and future agricultural challenges. In contrast to macroalgae biostimulants, the targeted applications of MBs in agriculture are still in their earlier stages and their commercial implementation is constrained by the lack of research and cost of production. The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive overview on the use of this promising new category of plant biostimulants in agriculture and to highlight the current knowledge on their application prospects. Based on the prevailing state of the art, we aimed to roadmap MCB formulations from microalgae and cyanobacteria strain selection, algal biomass production, extraction techniques and application type to product commercialization and farmer and consumer acceptance. Moreover, we provide examples of successful trials demonstrating the beneficial applications of microalgal biostimulants as well as point out bottlenecks and constraints regarding their successful commercialization and input in sustainable agricultural practices. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Revealing the Complex Interplay of Biostimulant Applications
Authors: Ye Yuan; Nicholas Dickinson
Affiliation: Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University, Location B447, Ellesmere Junction Rd, Lincoln 7647, New Zealand

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