Special Issue "Biochar for the Mitigation of Environmental Stresses and Enhancement of Crop Production"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Response to Abiotic Stress and Climate Change".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 28 February 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Parvaiz Ahmad
Guest Editor
Department of Botany and Microbiology, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Interests: botany; environmental stress; plant physiology; molecular biology; crop production; phytoremediation
Prof. Dr. Luigi Sanita' di Toppi
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Biology, University of Pisa, via Luca Ghini 13, 56126 Pisa, Italy
Interests: heavy metals; metal homeostasis; phytochelatins; phytochelatin synthase; glutathione; plant evolution; lichens
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Environmental pollution and soil contamination with toxic elements are responsible for climate change, which brings different environmental stresses on flora and fauna. This environmental fluctuation has wreaked havoc as crop production has gone down due to the transformation of fertile land into wastelands. There are many reasons behind the extension of wastelands every year, and some of these are industrial development, urbanization, excess use of fertilizers, pesticides, etc., and environmental stresses such as salinity, heavy metal, drought, temperature, pesticides, etc., which have been proven to cause a decline in crop production as well as soil fertility. On the other hand, feeding an increasing population in such severe environmental conditions is also itself a great challenge, and to face this challenge, the need of the hour is to search for environmentally-friendly and sustainable approaches to alleviate these stresses and enhance crop production without harming the natural environment. One of these potential approaches is the use of biochar to maintain the soil fertility accompanying enhanced crop production.

Biochar, a carbon-rich organic material procured from biomass and wastes, has been reported to have many advantages in ameliorating soil toxicity. Remediation of hazardous contaminants from the soil is one of its major beneficial roles. It has been reported in the literature that the addition of biochar to the soil can enhance the quality of soil and accelerate plant growth and development. The use of biochar for sustainable and long-lasting soil amendments is because (1) it decays very slowly, thus providing benefits for a longer period, and (2) it exhibits high potential to retain nutrients. Soil amendments with biochar enhance soil quality through an increase in soil pH and enhance the potential of holding moisture and exchange of cations, as well as microbial flora.

Keeping in view all the above aspects regarding environmental issues, crop production, and soil amendment with organic matter, this Special Issue intends to highlight the present scenario of environmental pollution and its impact on crop plants and mitigating the role of biochar against these stresses. This Special Issue will be discussing the role of biochar in enhancing plant growth and crop production under different environmental stresses without interfering with the natural environment. Both research and review articles related to the theme of the Special Issue will be entertained. The potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • Biochar: chemistry, preparation, and quality aspects;
  • Biochar and plant growth and development;
  • Biochar and soil remediation for pollutants;
  • Biochar and emerging pollutants;
  • Role of biochar in reducing abiotic stress in plants;
  • Role of biochar in improving beneficial soil microbes;
  • Crop production under the biochar amendment;
  • Biochar for crop quality.

Dr. Parvaiz Ahmad
Prof. Dr. Mirza Hasanuzzaman
Prof. Dr. Luigi Sanita' di Toppi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Plants is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • abiotic stress
  • heavy metal
  • drought
  • temperature
  • salinity
  • pesticides
  • plant adaptation
  • biochar amendment

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Chitosan Modified Biochar Increases Soybean (Glycine max L.) Resistance to Salt-Stress by Augmenting Root Morphology, Antioxidant Defense Mechanisms and the Expression of Stress-Responsive Genes
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1173; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091173 - 10 Sep 2020
Soybean is an important oilseed crop that provides high-quality protein and vegetable oil. Salinity constitutes a negative abiotic factor that reduces soybean plant growth, production, and quality. The adsorption of Na+ by chitosan-modified biochar (CMB) has a significant effect on salinity but [...] Read more.
Soybean is an important oilseed crop that provides high-quality protein and vegetable oil. Salinity constitutes a negative abiotic factor that reduces soybean plant growth, production, and quality. The adsorption of Na+ by chitosan-modified biochar (CMB) has a significant effect on salinity but the application of CMB is limited in soybean. In the current study, CMB was used for characterization of physiological, biochemical, and molecular responses of soybean under salt stress. Comparison of CMB and unmodified (as-is) biochar (BR) demonstrated a significant difference between them shown by using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scan electron microscopy (SEM), Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET), elemental analysis and z-potential measurement. Pseudo-first and second-order better suited for the analysis of Na+ adsorption kinetics. The salt-stress reduced the soybean plants growth, root architecture characteristics, biomass yield, nutrients acquisition, chlorophyll contents, soluble protein, and sugar contents, while CMB with salt-stress significantly increased the above parameters. Moreover, CMB also reduced the salinity-induced increase in the Na+, glycine betaine (GB), proline, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels in plants. The antioxidant activity and gene expression levels triggered by salinity but with the application of CMB significantly further boosted the expression profile of four genes (CAT, APX, POD and SOD) encoding antioxidant enzyme and two salt-tolerant conferring genes (GmSALT3 and CHS). Overall, these findings demonstrate the crucial role of CMB in minimizing the adverse effects of high salinity on soybean growth and efficiency of the mechanisms enabling plant protection from salinity through a shift of the architecture of the root system and enhancing the antioxidant defense systems and stress-responsive genes for achieving sustainable crop production. Full article
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