The positive effect of humic acids on the growth of plant roots is well known, however, the mechanisms and role of their physical structure in these processes have not been fully explained yet. In this work, South-Moravian lignite was oxidized by means of nitric acid and hydrogen peroxide to produce a set of regenerated humic acids. The elemental composition, solid state stability and solution characteristics were determined and correlated in vitro with their biological activity. A modified hydroponic method was applied to determine the effects of their potassium salts on Zea mays seedlings roots with respect to the plant weight, root length, root division, and starch and protein content. The relations between the determined parameters were evaluated through Principal Component Analysis and Pearson's correlation coefficients. The results indicated that the most important factor determining the biological activity of South-Moravian lignite potassium humates is related to the nature of self-assemblies, while the chemical composition had no direct connection with the root growth of Zea mays seedlings. It was demonstrated a controlled processing that provided humic substances with different chemical and physicochemical properties and variable biological activity.
Keywords: Biological activity; Chromatography; Lignite humic substances; Modification; Spectroscopy; Thermal analysis.