Investigating commercial Ascophyllum nodosum extracts ability to increase Nitrogen Use Efficiency in spring and oil-seed rape
Shannon ABC, Institute of Technology Tralee
The use of seaweed extracts such as Ascophyllum nodosum as biostimulants has been extensively researched. The chemical constituents of seaweed extract include complex polysaccharide, fatty acids, vitamins, phytohormones and mineral nutrients. Seaweed extracts have been proven to improve plant growth and yield, fruit production, improve shelf-life and increase resistance to biological and non-biological factors. However, there currently is a lack of literature identifying the ‘active ingredients’ of Ascophyllum. Oilseed rape (OSR; Brassica napus) is a member of the Brassicaceae family that is grown for its oil content which has many uses, e.g. as a food ingredient and non-food applications such as bioplastics. OSR is one of the crops with the highest nitrogen balance surpluses in European agriculture. Increasing nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) is therefore vital to solve the conflict between productivity, protection of the environment and to meet the demands of a growing world population. Prior to carrying out research on OSR, NUE will be studied in Arabidopsis thaliana. Arabidopsis also belongs to the Brassicaceae family but has the advantages of a shorter generation time offering the possibility of greater throughput in order to screen successful extracts. Arabidopsis will be treated with Ascophyllum extracts that vary in composition and then grown under various nitrogen regimes before being assessed for NUE. This work will then progress to research on OSR, comparing fresh weight, dry weight, seed/oil yield and quality and additional parameters, e.g. flavonol accumulation, nitrate reductase, glutamate synthase and expression of nitrogen related transport genes.
Keywords: Seaweed extract, Ascophyllum nodosum, Nitrogen use efficiency, Arabidopsis thaliana.