Molecules. 2022 May 25;27(11):3410. doi: 10.3390/molecules27113410.
Climate change, environmental pollution and associated abiotic stresses are beginning to meaningfully affect agricultural production worldwide. Salt stress is, however, one of the most important threats that significantly impairs plant growth and development. Plants in their early growth stages such as seed germination, seed emergence and early seedling growth are very sensitive to salt stress. Among the range of sustainable techniques adopted to improve seed germination and early plant growth is seed priming; however, with the use of ecofriendly substances, this is one of the most effective and economically viable techniques to improve seed tolerance against such environmental stresses. For instance, priming with appropriate non-synthetic compounds including microbial biostimulants are prominent ways to sustainably address these challenges. Therefore, in this research, by using the “priming technique”, two biostimulants were tested for their potential as sustainable approaches to improve canola and soybean seed germination under salt stress and optimal growth conditions. Canola and soybean seeds were primed with flavonoids extracted from citrus fruits (flavopriming) and cell-free supernatant (CFS; produced by a novel strain of Devosia sp.-SL43), alone and in combination, and exposed to low-higher levels of salt stress and ideal growth conditions. Both biostimulants showed promising effects by significantly improving seed germination of soybean and canola under both ideal and stressful conditions. However, increases in seed germination were greater under salinity stress as flavonoids and CFS with stress amelioration effects showed substantial and statistically significant improvements in seed germination under varying levels of salt stress. In addition, combinations (mixtures) of both biostimulants were tested to determine if their effects might be more additive or multiplicative than the individual applications. However, results suggested incompatibility of both biostimulants as none of the combinations showed better results than that of the individual applications of either flavonoids or CFS. Conceivably, the use of flavonoids and this novel Devosia sp. CFS could be significant plant growth enhancers, perhaps much better than the few other biostimulants and bacterial-based compounds currently in use.