Plants (Basel). 2023 Feb 13;12(4):845. doi: 10.3390/plants12040845.
The application of seaweed extract-based biostimulants is a promising approach for achieving sustainable agriculture, with an enormous potential of improving crop yield and mitigating climate change effects. Abiotic stressors, such as drought, are major factors resulting in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) yield losses and seaweed-based biostimulants have been proposed as an eco-friendly strategy to counteract this negative impact. Chondrus crispus is a common red seaweed widely used as source of carrageenans, not yet explored as a plant biostimulant. In this study, a protein hydrolysate-rich C. crispus extract, by-products of the carrageenan extraction, was tested on tomato plants under well-watered condition and water shortage. The foliar application of the protein-rich C. crispus extract conferred drought tolerance to tomato plants resulting in less noticeable visual stress symptoms. Treated plants showed higher shoot height and biomass under both well-watered and water deficit conditions, evidencing the double effect exerted by this new biostimulant, as plant growth promoter and drought stress protector. The treatment with the biostimulant had an effect on levels of abscisic acid and proline, and triggered the expression of Solyc02g084840, a drought marker gene. Finally, a label-free mass spectrometric approach allowed us to identify phycoerythrins and phycocyanins as major bioactive proteins contained in the extract. Altogether, these results indicate that the foliar application of protein hydrolysate-rich extracts from C. crispus improved tomato plant growth and tolerance to drought stress, suggesting a new opportunity for further applications in the agriculture and horticultural sectors.
PMID:36840193 | PMC:PMC9963589 | DOI:10.3390/plants12040845