Willow (Salix babylonica) Extracts Can Act as Biostimulants for Enhancing Salinity Tolerance of Maize Grown in Soilless Culture

Plants (Basel). 2023 Feb 14;12(4):856. doi: 10.3390/plants12040856.


Salinity negatively affects agricultural production by reducing crop growth and yield. Botanical biostimulants can be used as innovative and sustainable tools to cope with abiotic stress. In this study, salicylic acid (SA) (25 µM) and willow leaf (WL) (0.1 and 0.2%) and bark (WB) (0.1 and 0.2%) extracts were applied as plant-based biostimulants to hydroponically grown maize in the absence and presence of salinity stress (60 mM NaCl). The hormone-like activity and mineral composition of willow extracts were analyzed, and the effects of willow extracts on growth parameters, chlorophyll content, antioxidative enzyme activities, protein levels and mineral nutrient concentrations of maize plants were measured. Within the tested biostimulant applications, 0.2% WB, 0.1% WL and 0.2% WL gave the most promising results, considering the stress alleviating effects. The shoot biomass was increased up to 50% with 0.1% WL treatment and Na+ uptake was reduced with biostimulant applications under saline conditions. Under stress, the protein concentrations of maize leaves were enhanced by 50% and 80% with high doses of WB and WL applications, respectively. Results indicate that willow tree prunings can be valuable bio-economy resources, and aqueous extracts prepared from their leaves and barks can be used as effective and eco-friendly biostimulants.

PMID:36840205 | PMC:PMC9959057 | DOI:10.3390/plants12040856


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