The power of seaweeds as plant biostimulants to boost crop production under abiotic stress

Deolu-Ajayi, Ayodeji O.; Meer, Ingrid M. van der; Werf, Adrie van der; Karlova, Rumyana


Abiotic stresses like drought and salinity are major factors resulting in crop yield losses and soil degradation worldwide. To meet increasing food demands, we must improve crop productivity, especially under increasing abiotic stresses due to climate change. Recent studies suggest that seaweed-based biostimulants could be a solution to this problem. Here, we summarize the current findings of using these biostimulants and highlight current knowledge gaps. Seaweed extracts were shown to enhance nutrient uptake and improve growth performance in crops under stressed and normal conditions. Seaweed extracts contain several active compounds, for example, polysaccharides, polyphenols and phytohormones. Although some of these compounds have growth-promoting properties on plants, the molecular mechanisms that underly seaweed extract action remain understudied. In this paper, we review the role of these extracts and their bioactive compounds as plant biostimulants. The targeted application of seaweed extract to improve crop performance and protein accumulation is also discussed.