Phenol-containing organic substances stimulate phenylpropanoid
metabolism in Zea mays

Andrea Ertani, Michela Schiavon, Adriano Altissimo, Clizia Franceschi, and Serenella Nardi

J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci. 2011, 000, 1ā€“8

Intensive land use may affect soil properties (e.g., decreased soil organic matter [SOM] content)
and, consequently, reduce crop yields considerably. One way of counteracting the loss of SOM
and stimulating plant productivity could be the use of organic residues from agro-industrial processes as bioactive products. The present study was focused on the possible effects of phenol containing organic substances derived from agro-industrial by-products on maize (Zea mays L.)
metabolism in a pot experiment. Plants were grown for 12 d in a nutrient solution in the absence
(control) or in the presence of either a cellulosolitic dry apple hydrolyzate (AP) or a dry blueberry
cool extract (BB) applied at two rates (0.1 and 1 mL Lā€“1). Both products increased root and leaf
biomass and led to higher concentrations of macronutrients in the plant tissue. AP and BB also
had a positive impact on nitrogen (N) metabolism stimulating the activity and gene expression of
phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, a key enzyme of the phenylpropanoid pathway. Furthermore,
both products increased leaf concentrations of phenols (+ 28% and 49% for AP and BB, respectively) and flavonoids (+ 22% and 25% for AP and BB, respectively). From our results it can be
assumed that residues from agro-industry may be successfully used as bioactive products in
agriculture to increase plant yield and resistance to stress conditions.


Adriano Altissimo

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