Biostimulants alleviate water deficit stress and enhance essential oil productivity: a case study with savory

Esmaeil Rezaei-Chiyaneh, Hassan Mahdavikia, Hadi Alipour, Aria Dolatabadian, Martin Leonardo Battaglia, Sagar Maitra, Matthew Tom Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water deficit stress exposure frequently constrains plant and agri-food production globally. Biostimulants (BSs) can be considered a new tool in mitigating water deficit stress. This study aimed to understand how BSs influence water deficit stress perceived by savory plants (Satureja hortensis L.), an important herb used for nutritional and herbal purposes in the Middle East. Three BS treatments, including bio-fertilizers, humic acid and foliar application of amino acid (AA), were implemented. Each treatment was applied to savory plants using three irrigation regimes (low, moderate and severe water deficit stress FC100, FC75 and FC50, respectively). Foliar application of AA increased dry matter yield, essential oil (EO) content and EO yield by 22%, 31% and 57%, respectively. The greatest EO yields resulted from the moderate (FC75) and severe water deficit stress (FC50) treatments treated with AA. Primary EO constituents included carvacrol (39–43%), gamma-terpinene (27–37%), alpha-terpinene (4–7%) and p-cymene (2–5%). Foliar application of AA enhanced carvacrol, gamma-terpinene, alpha-terpinene and p-cymene content by 6%, 19%, 46% and 18%, respectively. Physiological characteristics were increased with increasing water shortage and application of AA. Moreover, the maximum activities of superoxide dismutase (3.17 unit mg−1 min−1), peroxidase (2.60 unit mg−1 min−1) and catalase (3.08 unit mg−1 min−1) were obtained from plants subjected to severe water deficit stress (FC50) and treated with AA. We conclude that foliar application of AA under water deficit stress conditions would improve EO quantity and quality in savory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number720
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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