• Plant biostimulants (PBs) attract interest in modern agriculture as a tool to enhance
    crop performance, resilience to environmental stress, and nutrient use efficiency.
    PBs encompass diverse organic and inorganic substances (humic acids and protein
    hydrolysates) as well as prokaryotes (e.g., plant growth promoting bacteria) and
    eukaryotes such as mycorrhiza and macroalgae (seaweed). Microalgae, which comprise
    eukaryotic and prokaryotic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), are attracting growing
    interest from scientists, extension specialists, private industry and plant growers
    because of their versatile nature: simple unicellular structure, high photosynthetic
    efficiency, ability for heterotrophic growth, adaptability to domestic and industrial
    wastewater, amenability to metabolic engineering, and possibility to yield valuable
    co-products. On the other hand, large-scale biomass production and harvesting still
    represent a bottleneck for some applications. Although it is long known that microalgae
    produce several complex macromolecules that are active on higher plants, their targeted
    applications in crop science is still in its infancy. This paper presents an overview of the
    main extraction methods from microalgae, their bioactive compounds, and application
    methods in agriculture. Mechanisms of biostimulation that influence plant performance,
    physiology, resilience to abiotic stress as well as the plant microbiome are also outlined.
    Considering current state-of-the-art, perspectives for future research on microalgaebased
    biostimulants are discussed, ranging from the development of crop-tailored,
    highly effective products to their application for increasing sustainability in agriculture.

  • Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Portici, Italy



    Copyright: published: 07 December 2018 doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01782. Copyright © 2018

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