Screening of microalgae liquid extracts for their bio stimulant properties on plant growth, nutrient uptake and metabolite profile of Solanum lycopersicum L

Sci Rep. 2020 Feb 18;10(1):2820. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-59840-4.


The present study investigates the biostimulant effects of 18 Crude Bio-Extracts (CBEs) obtained from Microalgae and Cyanobacteria on tomato plant growth, chlorophyll content, nutrient uptake and metabolite profile. Significant root and shoot length improvement (112.65%, 53.70%); was recorded at treatment with Aphanothece sp and C. ellipsoidea CBEs respectively. Meanwhile, the highest root and shoot dry weight (DW) (34.81%, 58.69%) were obtained at treatment with Aphanothece sp. The latter also displayed the maximum uptake of Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which increased by 185.17%, 119.36% and 78.04% respectively compared with non-treated plants. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) confirmed that Phosphorus and Potassium levels in roots were closely related to enhanced Root length, whereas Nitrogen and chlorophyll b were closely related to Shoot and root DW. Additionally, Gas Chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) indicated that treatment with CBEs, induced the production of a vast array of metabolites. Treated plants recorded higher accumulation of palmitic and stearic acids, which could indicate a stimulation in de novo Lipid synthesis. CBEs also triggered the accumulation of pyridine-3-carboxamide (an amide active form of vitamin B3) and Linolenic acid; one of the key precursors in the biosynthetic pathway leading to plant jasmonates. Our results are a first step towards understanding the effects of microalgal extracts on plant physiology and biochemical pathways. Further investigations on biochemical fractionation of microalgal extracts and agronomic tests of their purified bioactive compounds could be a useful principal novelty for in-depth study of CBE action mechanisms. Other useful tools include; Comparative hormone profiling of treated and non-treated plants accompanied with combined High-Throughput Plant Phenotyping, transcriptomics and metabolomics analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agricultural Inoculants*
  • Crop Production
  • Cyanobacteria / chemistry*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum* / growth & development
  • Lycopersicon esculentum* / metabolism
  • Metabolomics
  • Microalgae / chemistry*
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Phosphorus / metabolism
  • Potassium / metabolism


  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen
  • Potassium