Back Scientists from CPSBB and BioAtlantis Ltd. develop molecular priming technology to protect vegetable crops from abiotic and oxidative abiotic stresses

January 31, 2020
Scientists from CPSBB and BioAtlantis Ltd. develop molecular priming technology to protect vegetable crops from abiotic and oxidative abiotic stresses
Abiotic stresses such as drought, salinity, extreme temperatures, and pollutants are major factors from crop losses worldwide. All of these abiotic stresses as a consequence lead to oxidative stress, which in turn can damage plants, compromise yield, and in most severe cases, lead to death of the plants.
Scientists from CPSBB (Dr. Tsanko Gechev), in cooperation with partners from Mendel University in Brno, the Czech Republic (Dr. Pavel Kerchev), Flanders University of Biotechnology and University of Gent, Belgium (Prof. Dr. Frank Van Breusegem) and BioAtlantis Ltd., Ireland (Dr. Sujeeth Neerakkal) have reviewed the opportunities to develop molecular priming technologies that can protect plants from severe abiotic and oxidative stresses. The basic concept is as follows: small organic (natural) molecules can be applied to the plants a few days before an upcoming stress to induce the endogenous plant defence mechanisms. As a consequence, stress-protective genes are induced and stress-protective proteins and metabolites accumulate, which prevents the negative effects of subsequent stresses. This concept was recently published in the high impact journal Biotechnology Advances (Kerchev et al. 2020).

Figure 1. The molecular priming agent Super Fifty® (SF) protects plants from oxidative stress. Plants on the left are treated with 25 μM paraquat (PQ), a herbicide that elevates the endogenous levels of reactive oxygen species and triggers cell death. The necrotic lesions are clearly visible. Plants on the right were pretreated with 0.1% aqueous solution of SF, followed by 25 μM PQ. SF provided full protection against oxidative stress (no necrotic lesions).
To prove this concept, scientists from the PlantaSYST consortium together with the partner BioAtlantis Ltd. have developed a system to induce oxidative stress and showed that the molecular priming agent SuperFifty (SF) is able to protect Arabidopsis thaliana against this stress (Figure 1). Plants pre-treated with SF are fully protected and do not show any visible damage by oxidative stress, while the non-treated plants are suffering and eventually die from the oxidative stress. The team of scientists, lead by Dr. Gechev, have shown that stress protection is associated with induction of stress-protective genes and accumulation of metabolites. These findings were recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Scientists (Omidbakhshfard et al. 2020). Furthermore, growth- and photosynthesis-related genes are also induced by SF, which results in stimulation of growth. CPSBB scientists continued further investigations with major vegetable crops such as tomato and pepper, showing that SF can fully protect these crops as well (Figure 1). Overall, this seems to be a reliable, efficient, and non-expensive molecular priming technology that is applicable to a wide range of plants and may prove instrumental for the crop growers to enhance productivity under unfavourable environmental conditions.

Kerchev P., van der Meer T., Sujeeth S., Verlee A., Stevens C.V., Van Breusegem F., Gechev T. (2020) Molecular priming as an approach to induce tolerance against abiotic and oxidative stresses in crop plants. Biotechnology Advances. 40: 107503. (IF 14.227)

Omidbakhshfard M.A., Sujeeth N., Gupta S., Omranian N., Guinan K.J., Brotman Y., Nikoloski Z.Fernie A.R.Mueller-Roeber B.Gechev T. (2020) A biostimulant obtained from the seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum protects Arabidopsis thaliana from severe oxidative stress. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 21(2): 1–26. (IF 5.923)