Why Seaweed Extract Important in Agriculture and in Abiotic Stress Mitigation?


In the world of current agriculture, where shifting climatic patterns and environmental stressors are more common than ever, finding novel ways to increase crop resilience has taken on much significance. The use of seaweed extracts is one such solution that has caught the interest of both researchers and farmers. These extracts, derived from different marine algae, have shown fantastic potential in promoting crop growth and reducing the negative impacts of abiotic stressors. This blog explores the value of seaweed extracts in agriculture and their crucial part in enhancing crops' resistance to and ability to recover from environmental stresses.

Composition of Seaweed Extract

For its numerous advantages, seaweed extracts have been used for centuries by many different cultures. Seaweed's natural chemicals have shown to be a gold mine for crop enhancement, from conventional treatments to contemporary agricultural applications. These extracts are full of vital nutrients, hormones that encourage development, antioxidants, and other bioactive substances that directly boost the health and production of plants.

Hormones: Auxins, cytokinins, and gibberellins, among other plant growth regulators or hormones, are present in seaweed extracts. In controlling plant growth and development, these hormones play crucial functions.

Carbohydrates: Mannitol and laminarin are two examples of carbohydrates that are frequently found in seaweed extracts. They assist several metabolic processes and serve as a source of energy for plants.

Amino Acids: Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins and necessary for the growth and development of plants, can be found in seaweed extracts.

Alginic Acid: Seaweed extracts contain alginic acid, a natural biopolymer. It enhances the availability of nutrients, water retention, and soil structure.

Micro and macronutrients: Seaweed extracts are a good source of important nutrients like iron, zinc, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. These nutrients encourage healthy growth and support a variety of plant processes.

Vitamins: Vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and vitamin E, which support general plant health and vigor, may be present in seaweed extracts.

Antioxidants and polyphenols: Seaweed extracts contain antioxidants and polyphenolic chemicals that help shield plants from oxidative stress and environmental harm.

Betaines: Some types of seaweed include betaines, which can increase a plant's ability to withstand environmental challenges like salinity, drought, and other factors.

It's crucial to remember that different kinds of seaweed might have varied compositions, and the extraction procedure can affect how the seaweed extract product is ultimately composed. As a result, different seaweed extract products on the market may have varied ratios and amounts of these components. To achieve the greatest benefit for the crops while using seaweed extract in agriculture, it's crucial to pick a reliable product and adhere to the application instructions provided by the manufacturer.

                                                                Seaweed Liquid Extract

Types of Seaweeds use for extraction

Ascophyllum nodosum: One of the most regularly used species for the manufacturing of seaweed extracts is this brown seaweed, also known as knotted wrack or egg wrack. It is valued for its high nutrient content and growth-promoting chemicals and is widespread along the North Atlantic shores.

Fucus vesiculosus: This brown seaweed, also referred to as bladderwrack, is a common option for the manufacturing of seaweed extract. It includes a variety of advantageous components, such as alginates, fucoidan, and other bioactive ingredients.

Sargassum spp.:  Brown seaweeds belonging to the big genus Sargassum are found in tropical and subtropical waters. It has been used in formulations using seaweed extract because of its high mineral concentration.

Laminaria spp.: Several types of Laminaria, also referred to as kelp, are utilized to produce seaweed extract. The minerals, alginates, and other bioactive substances in these brown seaweeds are abundant.

Enteromorpha spp.: Green seaweed Enteromorpha, often known as sea lettuce, is occasionally used to make seaweed extracts. It includes a range of nutrients and plant-friendly bioactive compounds.

Ulva spp.: Another green seaweed used in the creation of seaweed extracts is ulva, also referred to as sea lettuce. It has bioactive substances and necessary nutrients.

                                                      Commercial farming of seaweeds 

Role of seaweed extract in Abiotic Stress Mitigation

Through a variety of mechanisms that enable plants to more effectively withstand and adapt to challenging environmental conditions, seaweed extracts have been proven to improve abiotic stress tolerance in crops.

Osmotic Control: Mannitol and betaines, two substances found in seaweed extracts, assist control the osmotic equilibrium in plants. This is essential in times of drought and salinity stress because these substances help to sustain water intake and cellular hydration, lowering the plant's stress from water.

Antioxidant Activity: Antioxidants including polyphenols and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) are abundant in seaweed extracts. These anti-oxidants aid plants in fending off oxidative stress brought on by things like intense lighting, pollution, and temperature changes. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) and peroxidase, two enzymes that scavenge damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) and shield plant cells from damage brought on by stressors, are present in seaweed extracts.

Root Development and Nutrient Uptake: Seaweed extracts encourage the growth and development of the roots, which increases the root surface area and improves nutrient and water absorption. Even in times of stress, plants with improved root systems can access soil nutrients.

Regulation of Abscisic Acid: Plants' levels of Abscisic Acid (ABA) can be altered by seaweed extracts. A key component of plant stress responses, including stomatal closure to lessen water loss during drought stress, is the hormone ABA.

Metal Chelation: Metals can be chelated in seaweed extracts, making heavy metals in the soil less poisonous to plants and reducing their toxicity. This is crucial in contaminated soils where plant growth might be hampered by heavy metal stress.

Accumulation of Proline: The amino acid proline, which serves as an osmoprotectant and stabilizes cellular structures under stress conditions, can be accumulated as a result of the use of seaweed extracts.

Stress Signaling Pathways: Seaweed extracts can activate various stress-related signaling pathways in plants, activating genes that respond to stress and producing proteins that are particular to that condition.

Improved Photosynthesis: By preserving chlorophyll levels and increasing the effectiveness of photosystem II under stress circumstances, seaweed extracts can improve photosynthetic efficiency.

Microbial Interactions: Seaweed extracts can encourage advantageous microbial activity in the rhizosphere, improving nutrient cycling and nutrient availability to plants.  It increases the activity of helpful bacteria in the soil, encouraging nutrient cycling and increasing the availability of nutrients to plants.

Innovative solutions are essential as global agriculture navigates the difficulties brought on by climate change and environmental pressures. A sustainable and promising method for increasing crop tolerance to abiotic stresses is using seaweed extracts. They serve as a crucial instrument in guaranteeing food security and sustainable farming practices for a vibrant future because of their many benefits, which include nutrient enrichment, hormonal balancing, and stress reduction. The use of seaweed extracts can open the door for a more robust and productive agricultural landscape through a holistic strategy that fuses scientific understanding with real-world application.

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