Vitamin C Boosts Pea Defenses Against Salt Stress

Jim Crocker
8th April, 2024

Vitamin C Boosts Pea Defenses Against Salt Stress

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • At the Islamia University of Bahawalpur, researchers found that vitamin C sprays help pea plants grow in salty soil
  • The sprays increased chlorophyll and carotenoids, boosting plant growth and yield under salt stress
  • Vitamin C also improved the plants' antioxidant defense and balanced essential nutrients like sodium and potassium
Pea plants, much like many other crops, are battling the increasing problem of soil salinity, which can stunt their growth and slash their yields. At the Islamia University of Bahawalpur, researchers set out to find a solution to this issue and their findings offer a glimmer of hope for pea cultivation in saline environments[1]. Soil salinity is a worldwide concern, disrupting the delicate balance of water and nutrients that plants need to thrive. When salt levels in the soil climb too high, plants struggle to absorb water, leading to a cascade of negative effects including reduced growth and compromised photosynthesis—the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy. In an effort to counteract these detrimental effects, the study explored the use of ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C, as a foliar spray—meaning it's applied directly to the leaves of plants. The experiment tested two pea varieties, Meteor and Sarsabz, under normal and high-salt conditions, with varying levels of ascorbic acid applied. The findings were promising: ascorbic acid sprays significantly boosted the levels of chlorophyll, the green pigment essential for photosynthesis, and carotenoids, which protect the plant cells from damage. These enhancements led to a notable increase in the plant's growth and yield, even under the salt stress that would typically hinder these attributes. This isn't the first time that researchers have looked to external aids to help plants cope with salinity. Previous studies have shown that certain plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) and growth hormones like salicylic acid (SA) can help plants like maize withstand salty soils[2]. Similarly, the identification of salt-tolerant pea genotypes has provided a potential avenue for breeding more resilient crop varieties[3]. The study at the Islamia University of Bahawalpur adds a new layer to this body of knowledge by demonstrating that ascorbic acid can play a similar protective role. The treatment not only bolstered the plants' antioxidant defense system, helping to ward off the harmful effects of reactive oxygen species generated under stress, but also improved the balance of sodium and potassium in the plants—a critical factor in their ability to cope with salt. Moreover, the application of ascorbic acid led to an accumulation of compounds like proline, soluble sugars, and phenolics, which are known to help plants retain water and maintain cell structure under stress conditions. This aligns with the understanding that a multifaceted approach, involving both enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants, is vital for plants to survive and thrive in salty soils[4]. The study's approach is part of a larger movement towards sustainable agriculture, where the use of natural compounds like ascorbic acid could reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This idea is supported by research into halo-tolerant PGPRs, which can bolster crop productivity in saline conditions by improving nutrient availability and stress tolerance[5]. The results from the Islamia University of Bahawalpur not only provide a practical method to mitigate the impact of soil salinity on peas but also suggest that ascorbic acid could be a valuable tool for other crops facing similar challenges. The study found that the Sarsabz variety responded particularly well to the treatment, indicating that the effectiveness of such interventions may vary between different crop varieties. In conclusion, the research from the Islamia University of Bahawalpur offers a new strategy to help pea plants overcome the obstacle of soil salinity. By enhancing their natural defenses and maintaining crucial physiological processes, ascorbic acid foliar sprays could be a key ingredient in the recipe for resilient agriculture in saline-prone areas. As the global agricultural community continues to seek out solutions to environmental stresses, studies like this one provide actionable insights that can lead to more sustainable and productive farming practices.

AgricultureBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Exogenous ascorbic acid as a potent regulator of antioxidants, osmo-protectants, and lipid peroxidation in pea under salt stress

Published 5th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Synergistic Effects of Rhizobacteria and Salicylic Acid on Maize Salt-Stress Tolerance.

3) Salinity-Induced Physiological Changes in Pea (Pisum sativum L.): Germination Rate, Biomass Accumulation, Relative Water Content, Seedling Vigor and Salt Tolerance Index.

4) Response of Pea Plants (Pisum sativum cv. Ran 1) to NaCl Treatment in Regard to Membrane Stability and Photosynthetic Activity.

5) Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria: Salt stress alleviators to improve crop productivity for sustainable agriculture development.

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