Boosting Onion Resilience to Salt Stress with Fusaric Acid

Jenn Hoskins
25th March, 2024

Boosting Onion Resilience to Salt Stress with Fusaric Acid

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In a Turkish study, low-dose fusaric acid (FA) improved onion plant growth under salt stress
  • FA treatment reduced genetic and cellular damage in salt-stressed onions
  • The study suggests FA can boost onions' natural defenses against salt-induced harm
Salinity is a significant challenge for agriculture worldwide, as high salt levels in soil can severely limit plant growth and crop yields. A recent study by researchers at Süleyman Demirel University has explored an innovative approach to protecting plants from the damaging effects of salt stress[1]. This research builds upon previous findings that have examined various strategies to mitigate the impact of salinity on plant health. The study focused on the onion plant (Allium cepa L.), a common and economically important crop. When exposed to salt, onion plants experience a range of negative effects, including reduced germination, growth, and an increase in cellular damage. Specifically, high salt levels can lead to chromosomal aberrations (CAs) and micronucleus (MN) frequency in the plant's root tips, indicating genetic damage. Additionally, salt stress can cause an increase in malondialdehyde (MDA) content, a marker of lipid peroxidation and cell membrane damage, as well as a surge in antioxidant enzyme activities as the plant attempts to combat oxidative stress. The researchers at Süleyman Demirel University decided to investigate whether fusaric acid (FA), a compound produced by certain fungi, could help alleviate salt-induced damage in onions. In the past, FA has been known to cause plant cell death and exhibit phytotoxic effects[2]. However, in this study, FA was applied in a very low concentration to determine whether it could have a protective effect against salt stress. The results were promising. FA treatment appeared to mitigate many of the harmful effects of salt exposure. Onion bulbs treated with FA showed improved germination and growth, with a decrease in chromosomal damage and anatomical injuries typically caused by salt. This suggests that FA, in controlled amounts, can enhance the plant's antioxidant defense system, reducing oxidative damage to cells. These findings are in line with earlier studies that have identified substances capable of protecting plants from environmental stressors. For instance, coronatine (COR), a toxin produced by the bacteria Pseudomonas syringae, was found to alleviate the negative effects of salt stress in onions by enhancing their growth and reducing cellular damage[3]. Similarly, the combined application of kinetin (Kn) and epi-brassinolide (EBL) improved growth and photosynthetic efficiency in tomatoes under salt stress by bolstering the antioxidant system and reducing oxidative damage[4]. Moreover, supplementing wheat plants with potassium (K) has been shown to improve growth and yield under salt stress by enhancing antioxidant metabolism and reducing the harmful Na/K ratio in the plants[5]. The Süleyman Demirel University study contributes to this body of work by suggesting that FA, a previously considered phytotoxic substance, might possess a dual nature depending on its concentration. At low levels, FA seems to act as a protective agent against salt stress, much like the other protective substances identified in earlier research. This discovery could have significant implications for agriculture, particularly in regions where soil salinity is a major constraint to crop production. The methods used in the study involved treating onion bulbs with FA and observing the effects on various indicators of plant health under salt stress. The researchers measured germination rates, root length, fresh weight, and the mitotic index, which reflects the rate of cell division. They also assessed the levels of antioxidants and other compounds associated with stress responses in the plants. In conclusion, the study by researchers at Süleyman Demirel University opens up new possibilities for using FA as a potential treatment to enhance plant resilience to salinity. It also adds to the growing evidence that certain substances, when applied exogenously and in proper concentrations, can help plants cope with abiotic stresses. This research could pave the way for developing more effective strategies to protect crops from the adverse effects of high soil salinity, thus supporting agricultural productivity and food security.

BiochemPlant ScienceAgriculture


Main Study

1) Exogenous application of mycotoxin fusaric acid improve the morphological, cytogenetic, biochemical and anatomical parameters in salt (NaCl) stressed Allium cepa L.

Published 23rd March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Fusaric acid induced cell death and changes in oxidative metabolism of Solanum lycopersicum L.

3) Modulation of NaCl-induced osmotic, cytogenetic, oxidative and anatomic damages by coronatine treatment in onion (Allium cepa L.).

4) Combined effects of brassinosteroid and kinetin mitigates salinity stress in tomato through the modulation of antioxidant and osmolyte metabolism.

5) Salinity stress induced alterations in antioxidant metabolism and nitrogen assimilation in wheat (Triticum aestivum L) as influenced by potassium supplementation.

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