- Martin K. van Ittersum - Professor, Wageningen University, Netherlands
- Co-Chair: Dr. Jian -Kang Zhu - Director of the Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
- Maximino Manzanera (Keynote) - Researcher to the Water Institute, University of Granada, Spain
Urban areas are replacing traditional production agriculture lands as the global population continues to expand. The perennial crop of choice in these areas is a covering of turfgrass (e.g. Poa pratensis, Lolium perenne, etc.). The public generally perceives that this urban crop is watered and fed in excess of need and receives prophylactic pesticide applications indiscriminately. Professional turf managers who culture lawns, golf and sports turf are constantly seeking ways to manage turf more efficiently and with fewer resources, especially during stress drought and heat stress. Prior research has demonstrated the benefits of incorporating organic amendments prior to planting (Linde and Hepner, 2005) and exogenous applications of various biostimulants under stress conditions (Zhang and Ervin, 2010; Zhang et al. 2008). The possible enhanced plant response of biostimulants on turf grown in soils amended with newer soil recalcitrant carbon sources like biochar is unclear. Seedling turfgrass was grown under controlled environment conditions on a sand rootzone amended with or without biochar and treated with or without various biostimulants containing kelp extract, humate, Bacillus spp.. Substantial increases in soil microbial activity were measured when biostimulants were combined with biochar and some modest improvements in turf establishment and green color retention when subject to acute drought were measured. These studies demonstrate the positive effects of these possible management inputs for further enhancing sustainable turf management practices.
- Cale Bigelow - Professor, Purdue University - Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Bio4safe aims at reducing water and nutrient consumption in horticulture through the use of (seaweed-based) biostimulants in combination with innovative plant sensors. By this, we want to reduce water and fertilizer use by 20 and 10% in the 2 Seas Region, respectively. The project focuses on demonstration trials with various horticultural crops in four countries (NL, FR, UK, BE) for three years. After one trial year, when plants were grown under optimal conditions, first results hint towards a positive effect of the biostimulants to promote plant growth and stress resilience as a better water conservation strategy was observed (leaf clip, LVDT and sap flow sensors, water and nitrogen use efficiency, chlorophyll indices, growth parameters).
The trial is repeated in 2019, but the plants are grown under drought stress (reduction of 20% water) and nutrient stress (reduction of 10-20% N). Results of this trial are available by Oct 2019. Data from the trials will be summarized in a general database, completed with data from literature. This will result in a webbased application where growers can search for the most appropriate biostimulant. This project aims further to develop a standardized protocol that accredited laboratories can use to objectively evaluate biostimulants. Project partners: PCS Ornamental Plant Research, Ghent University (BE), NIAB EMR, Dove Associates (UK), Pole Legumes, ISA Lille (FR), Proeftuin Zwaagdijk and North Sea Farm Foundation (NL). This project has received funding from the Interreg 2 Seas programme 2014-2020 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under subsidy contract No 2S03-029.
- Jarinda Viaene - Researcher, Proefcentrum voor Sierteelt
Maize is one of the most cultivated crops worldwide, projected to become the most important crop in the developing world by 2025. The increasing frequency of extreme climatic events, and specifically of drought, is negatively affecting maize yields. While the main approaches to increase drought resistance are genetic modification and plant breeding, biostimulants are emerging as a workable tool to counteract climate-change-related yield and quality reduction. Exogenous application of glycinebetaine, a widely accumulated stress adaptor molecule in plants, has been demonstrated to enhance maize stress tolerance under drought conditions.
In this framework the commercial biostimulant Vegetal B60 (ED&F Man, derived from sugar beet molasses) distributed at a rate of 6 kg/ha at V5 stage, was tested. To verify its effects, trials on the drought sensitive maize inbred line B73 were conducted in a greenhouse. Different foliar application timings were tested in order to highlight varying product efficacy in relation to different values of fraction of transpirable soil water (FTSW). Progressive drought-related effects were quantified through a semi-automated whole-canopy multi-chamber system. Photosynthetic efficiency was then correlated to metabolomics profiling. Results showed a higher photosynthetic efficiency of the treated plants, correlated to biostimulant-mediated drought tolerance. Furthermore, metabolomic analyses demonstrated the chemical priming action of the biostimulant.
- Giulia Antonucci - PhD Student, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
- Antonio Ferrante - Associate Professor, University of Milan, Italy
In the recent times, bacteria and fungi based bio-fertilizers are gaining greater importance in global agriculture. Among the bio-fertilizers, Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) plays a major role in the cultivation of many important crops where Glomus sp. was found to be widely used for the abiotic stress management and crop productivity. Present paper summarizes the scientifically designed replicated field studies to enlighten the potential use of Agrinos AMF for promoting growth and yield benefits in different crops being cultivated in Indian subcontinent. Agrinos AMF developed through in-house technology where more than 90 % endomycorrhizal spores of Glomus sp. loaded in the product to establish root-symbionts which obtain their nutrients from the plant and provide mineral elements like N, P, K, Ca, S and Zn to the host plant through absorption. In this association, the fungus takes over the role of the plant’s root hairs and acts as an extension of the root system. The significance of AMF in augmenting crop production has been clearly established through extensive field experimental data. Yield differences between AMF treated and untreated fields were significantly high ((P< 0.05) with fitting cost benefit ratio.
The results on different crop experiments (Rice, Vegetables, Sugarcane and fruit crops) showed that the right dose, window and method of application is important for obtaining maximum benefits of the product which has ultimately enabled to develop specific application protocols to support commercial approaches for delivering vast benefits to the farmers. Studies further revealed the capabilities of AMF on improving soil health (aggregation, organic matter, water relation), better withstand of annual/perineal crops during drought and quality enhancement of end produce which has given way for future investigation in Mycorrhizal Technology Products. Key words: Bio-fertilizer, Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi, AMF, Glomus sp. crop, yield
- Selvasundaram Rajagopal - Regional Technology Director - Eastern Europe & Asia Pacific, Agrinos India Pvt Ltd.,
- Ry Wagner - President of International Agribusiness, AlgaEnergy
- Wieslaw Ciecierski - Marketing Director, INTERMAG sp. z o. o.
- Yimin Qin - Director State Key Laboratory of Bioactive Seaweed Substances, China, Qingdao Bright Moon Seaweed Group Co.,Ltd
- Co-Chair: Dr. Jose Maria Garcia - Professor of Agricultural Chemistry and director of the Chair TIMAC AGRO (CMI Roullier), University of Navarra
- Nicolaus von Wirén (Keynote) - Professor at Dept. Physiology & Cell Biology, Leibniz-Institute of Plant Genetics & Crop Plant Research, Germany
Biostimulants promote root and shoot growth, flowering, fruit set, yield and quality of crops. These beneficial effects can be attributed to enhanced nutrient use efficiency and increased tolerance to abiotic stress, triggered by physical and chemical challenges including foliar nutrient application. In this study we investigated the effect of five categories of commercially available biostimulants including seaweed extracts (SE), protein hydrolysates (PH), synthetic formula containing antioxidant properties (SF), plant growth regulators (PGR) and fermentation metabolite-based (FM) products.
Each class of biostimulants was evaluated either alone or in combination with nutrients. Treatments were applied twice to the foliage of six-week-old Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Leaf tissue was collected 24 hours after the second application. Specific metabolic pathways were identified using microarray and gene expression was confirmed with qPCR. In this study we evaluated upregulation of genes involved in these pathways. Compared to control, all tested biostimulants showed different degrees of gene upregulation in stress response, nutrient transport and homeostasis, reactive oxygen species control and signaling. The strongest response was observed with the FM biostimulant followed by SE, while PGR, PH and SB showed lower or no gene upregulation. Application of biostimulants with nutrients generally enhanced gene upregulation over biostimulants alone, while nutrient treatment on its own resulted in low or no gene upregulation. In summary, we detected similarities in biostimulant effects on these metabolic pathways with unique differences in efficiencies of their performance and propose a common mode of action on a molecular level.
- Adam Blaszczak - R&D Director / Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Cytozyme Laboratories
In calcareous soils, high pH contributes to the low solubility of Fe (iron) and, consequently, to the poor availability of this element. To solve this problem, dicot plants induce physiological and morphological responses in their roots aimed to facilitate Fe mobilization and uptake. Some key genes related to these responses are FRO, encoding a ferric reductase that reduces Fe3+ to Fe2+; IRT1, encoding a Fe transporter that transports Fe2+ into the root cells; and HA, encoding a H+-ATPase that releases protons to the rhizosphere. Several hormones and signaling substances, like ethylene and nitric oxide, participate in the regulation of these Fe acquisition genes. ISR (Induced Systemic Resistance), triggered by beneficial rhizosphere microorganisms, is also regulated by similar hormones and signaling substances, in such a way that ISR-eliciting microorganisms can promote the induction of Fe acquisition genes (Romera et al. 2019).
The objective of this work was to study the capacity of Pseudomonas simiae and of a nonpathogenic strain of Fusarium oxysporum (both elicit ISR) to induce Fe deficiency responses, to improve the growth of plants and to alleviate the effects of high pH caused by bicarbonate in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicon Mill.) plants. The results obtained showed a greater induction of the Fe acquisition genes FRO, IRT1 and HA, and enhanced growth, a higher capacity to acidify the medium in presence of bicarbonate, and an enhancement of the ferric reductase activity some days after inoculation, in cucumber and/or tomato plants inoculated with these microorganisms.
- Francisco Javier Romera - Professor, Universidad de Cordoba
- Javier Nacher - Chief Technical Officer, Seipasa
- David Hiltz - Director of Analytical Services, Acadian Plant Health
- Nuria Sierras - Head of Research and Early development, Bioiberica, S.A.U
Upon harvest, fruit are commonly stored at low temperatures and modified atmospheres with or without additional postharvest treatments aiming to slow down ripening and extend the produce life. Nonetheless, such conditions are known to be stressful and can induce the accumulation of oxidative damage as well as trigger an array of metabolic shifts/reactions within the fruit leading to the appearance of numerous physiological disorders. Thus said, the application of both targeted and untargeted transcriptomic or metabolomics studies has allowed to elucidate, to some extent, the etiology of many physiological disorders. Changes in specific metabolites levels as well as a disruption of the fruit redox homeostasis or an alteration of the fruit ripening-related machinery are common denominators for most of the relevant physiological disorders affecting fruit during storage. Consequently, the question now arises on whether the application of certain substances pre-harvest, such as biostimulants, can be employed to tackle postharvest physiological disorders.
Research done over the past three years with a commercially available phospholipid enriched food-grade formulate that supplements the cuticle of the plant, has shown that pre-harvest treated peaches retained better firmness and owned increased shelf-life showing lower incidence of chilling injury disorders upon storage. Investigations on the putative mode of action of this product, have revealed that such positive effects were associated to changes in the fruit ethylene metabolism as well as by favouring the accumulation and utilization of sugars (sucrose) and acids (citrate), respectively, within the fruit yet without affecting the fruit maturity or quality at the time of commercial harvest. Overall, the results from this research are discussed on the context of developing new biostimulant products especially targeted to improve postharvest fruit quality and shelf-life
- Jordi Gine-Bordonaba - Researcher, IRTA
In grapes, bud cluster formation takes place over two consecutive years. In the first year, inflorescences start to form (inflorescence primordia or IP) in the bud. This phase determines the potential fertility of the latent buds. Thus, the quality of the inflorescences formed in the first year is a crucial factor in the final yield of the following year. Regulation of the bud formation stages as defined by ISVV involves a set of genes which regulate the phases of cell proliferation, differentiation of vegetative meristems into floral meristems and acquisition of definitive characteristics. Biochemical and genetic analyses highlight the importance of hormones for promoting communication between cells and tissues ensuring harmonious and defined bud development. ISVV and UPL collaborated on a study to evaluate the effects of Vivaflor®, containing GA142, Ascophyllum nodosum filtrate on latent bud fertility.
The multidisciplinary approach highlighted the positive effect of Vivaflor® (GoActiv) on the expression of the genes involved in these mechanisms, and also on the hormonal regulation mechanisms and metabolism of sugars favouring the formation of IP in the latent buds of vines. Acting at three complementary levels, it promotes IP branching stages by stimulating cellular differentiation and carbohydrate metabolism. Lastly, Vivaflor® triggered an increase in ABA content at the start of dormancy onset leading to a greater accumulation of sucrose and starch for improved storage of insoluble sugars. This led to better distribution and use of soluble sugars the following spring, with a cumulative effect.
- Aude Bernardon Méry - Global Biostimulant and Innovative Nutrition Development Manager, Arysta
The world’s agricultural systems face a great balancing act between two needs: (1) rise the supply of food produced on the available farmland since the global population will increase to over 9.3 billion by 2050, and (2) reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment and human health. Meeting these two targets present a major sustainability challenge to scientists and producers, which might be fostered by using natural products known as plant biostimulants. Plant biostimulants, when applied to seeds, leaves, or the soil, can enhance nutrient uptake and assimilation, photosynthesis and crop tolerance to environmental stresses. Vegetal-derived biostimulants and endophytic fungi Rhizoglomus irregulare BEG72, Funneliformis mosseae BEG 234, and Trichoderma atroviride MUCL 45632 are gaining a lot of interest due to the high agronomic effectiveness and the lack of limitations in their use in organic farming systems. Several agronomic trials showed that vegetal-derived biostimulants and endophytic fungi differently modulate quality of fruits and vegetables.
Vegetal-derived protein hydrolysate enhanced fruit size, mineral profile, nutritional and functional quality of several product (e.g. tomato, kiwi, cherry) while tropical-plant extract reduced nitrate content in leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach). Moreover, application of endophytic fungi enhanced soluble solids, phytochemical and especially mineral content of several product (e.g.cucumber, zucchini) Biostimulant activity have been associated with changes of endogenous hormonal balance, increase of nutrient uptake, activation of antioxidant defense system, and stimulation of primary and secondary metabolism. Several examples will be presented and discussed to show the potential benefits of using plant biostimulants in horticultural crops.
- Mariateresa Cardarelli - Researcher, Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economy Analysis (CREA), Italy
Harpin αβ peptides are produced by gram-negative bacteria. When applied as a foliar spray, Harpin αβ binds to plant receptors, initiating jasmonic acid and ethylene dependent pathways. The harpin- induced response is characterised by elevated levels of reactive oxygen species, potassium efflux and calcium influx. The extent to which Harpin αβ (ProAct®) influences calcium influx and how this affects fruit quality has received significant attention in recent years, including a 4-year study on citrus at the Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA), Spain. IVIA reported an increase in calcium pectate (cell wall calcium) and firmer fruits following application of Harpin αβ. Across the 4 years, the level of ‘creasing’ in Harpin αβ treatments was reduced by an average of 47% (range 20-75%), with application timing having a significant effect.
The IVIA results mirror that achieved in 46 grower trials (2015-2018), where Harpin αβ increased cell wall calcium by 21%. Yield increase across a range of citrus varieties and cultivars was 15%. The benefits of Harpin αβ can thus be broadly categorised as: improvements to fruit quality, increased yield, and better market opportunities, for example where harvesting of later varieties (e.g. Queen Mandarin) can be delayed. Assuming baseline yields of 50 MT/Ha, the yield improvement delivered by ProAct® equates to 10-15 times ROI (over $2,500 per Ha). Where the product is applied to late harvesting varieties returns are even higher, as growers can charge a premium of at least 10% if harvest is delayed by just two weeks.
- Aoife Dillon - Technical Director, EMEA, PLANT HEALTH CARE ESPANA, S.A.
- Ernesto Alejandro Zavala - Head Researcher, Atlantica Agricola
- Ron Salzman - Director of Research, Stoller
- Noemi Herrero - R&D Manager, Grupo Agrotecnologia, Spain
- Gemma Arjo - Researcher, Sustainable Agro Solutions (SAS), S.A.