Seaweed extract: biostimulator of plant defense and plant productivity

  • 189 Accesses

  • 1 Citations


The application of seaweeds as muck in agricultural farming has been very common from ancient times in the Roman Empire, Japan, China, France, Spain, Britain, etc. Most coastal areas all over the world use seaweeds as bio-fertilizer for crop production. Seaweed extracts are used in different ways like seed treatment, foliar spray and soil application for plant protection and for plant growth promotion. Seaweed extract is more useful than chemical fertilizer because of its bio-decomposable, non-toxic and eco-friendly property. These are the most important reasons to use seaweed extracts in recent years for sustainable agriculture in organic and integrated organic farming. Seaweeds affect agricultural crops for enhancement of plant growth, seedling growth, both root hair and secondary root development. It can also improve nutrient incorporation, fruit setting, resistance properties against pests and diseases, improving the stress management (drought, salinity and temperature). The present review focused on use of seaweed extract in the agricultural system and novel strategies for the use of seaweed extract.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.


  1. Abouraicha E, El Alaoui-Talibi Z, Tadlaoui-Ouafi A, El Boutachfaiti R, Petit E, Douira A, Courtois B, Courtois J, El Modafar C (2017) Glucuronan and oligoglucuronans isolated from green algae activate natural defense responses in apple fruit and reduce postharvest blue and gray mold decay. J Appl Phycol 29:471–480

  2. Alam MZ, Braun G, Norrie J, Hodges DM (2013) Effect of Ascophyllum extract application on plant growth, fruit yield and soil-microbial communities of strawberry. Can J Plant Sci 93:23–36

  3. An QD, Zhang GL, Wu HT, Zhang ZC, Zheng GS, Luan L, Li X (2009) Alginate-deriving oligosaccharide production by alginase from newly isolated Flavobacterium sp. LXA and its potential application in protection against pathogens. J Appl Microbiol 106(1):161–170

  4. Ara J, Sultana V, Qasim R, Etheshamul-Haque S, Vigar Uddin A (2005) Biological activity of Spatoglossum asperum: a brown alga. Phytother Res 19:618–623

  5. Arunkumar K, Selvapalam N, Rengasamy R (2005) The antibacterial compound sulpho glycerolipid palmitoyl-3-0(6′-sulpho- α-quinovopyranosyl)-glycerol from Sargassum wightii Greville (Phaeophyceae). Bot Mar 40:441–445

  6. Aziz NGA, Mahgoub MH, Siam HS (2011) Growth, flowering and chemical constituents’ performance of Amaranthus tricolor plants as influenced by seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) extract application under salt stress conditions. J Appl Sci Res 7:1472–1484

  7. Bari R, Jones JDG (2009) Role of plant hormones in plant defence responses. Plant Mol Biol 69(4):473–488

  8. Benhamou N, Rey P (2012) Stimulators of natural plant defenses: a new phytosanitary strategy in the context of sustainable ecoproduction: II. Interest of the SND in crop protection. Phytoprotection 92:24–35

  9. Ben Salah I, Aghrouss S, Douira A, Aissam S, El Alaoui-Talibi Z, Filali-Maltouf A, El Modafar C (2018) Seaweed polysaccharides as bio-elicitors of natural defenses in olive trees against verticillium wilt of olive. J Plant Interact 13(1):248–255

  10. Bi F, Iqbal S, Arman M, Ali A, M-u H (2011) Carrageenan as an elicitor of induced secondary metabolites and its effects on various growth characters of chickpea and maize plants. J Saudi Chem Soc 15:269–273

  11. Blunden G, Jenkins T, Liu Y-W (1997) Enhanced leaf chlorophyll levels in plants treated with seaweed extract. J Appl Phycol 8:535–543

  12. Boller T, Felix G (2009) A renaissance of elicitors: perception of microbe-associated molecular patterns and danger signals by pattern-recognition receptors. Annu Rev Plant Biol 60(1):379–406

  13. Chandia NP, Matsuhiro B, Mejías E, Moenne A (2004) Alginic acids in Lessonia vadosa: partial hydrolysis and elicitor properties of the polymannuronic acid fraction. J Appl Phycol 16(2):127–133

  14. Chanthini K, Kumar CS, Kingsley SJ (2012) Antifungal activity of seaweed extracts against phytopathogen Alternaria solani. J Acad Ind Res 1:86–90

  15. Chouliaras V, Tasioula M, Chatzissavvidis C, Therios I, Tsabolatidou E (2009) The effects of a seaweed extract in addition to nitrogen and boron fertilization on productivity, fruit maturation, leaf nutritional status and oil quality of the olive (Olea europaea L.) cultivar Koroneiki. J Sci Food Agric 89:984–988

  16. Cosse A, Potin P, Leblanc C (2009) Patterns of gene expression induced by oligoguluronates reveal conserved and environment-specific molecular defense responses in the brown alga Laminaria digitata. New Phytol 182(1):239–250

  17. Craigie JS (2011) Seaweed extract stimuli in plant science and agriculture. J Appl Phycol 23:371–393

  18. Crouch IJ, van Staden J (1992) Effect of seaweed concentrate on the establishment and yield of greenhouse tomato plants. J Appl Phycol 4:291–296

  19. Crouch IJ, Beckett RP, van Staden J (1990) Effect of seaweed concentrate on the growth and mineral nutrition of nutrient stressed lettuce. J Appl Phycol 2:269–272

  20. El Modafar C, Elgadda M, El Boutachfaiti R, Abouraicha E, Zehhar N, Petit E, Courtois J (2012) Induction of natural defence accompanied by salicylic acid-dependant systemic acquired resistance in tomato seedlings in response to bioelicitors isolated from green algae. Sci Hortic 138:55–63

  21. Fan D, Hodges DM, Critchley AT, Prithiviraj B (2013) A commercial extract of Brown Macroagla (Ascophyllum nodosum) affects yield and the nutritional quality of spinach in vitro. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 44:1873–1884

  22. González A, Castro J, Vera J, Moenne A (2013) Seaweed oligosaccharides stimulate plant growth by enhancing carbon and nitrogen assimilation, basal metabolism, and cell division. J Plant Growth Regul 32:443–448

  23. Gupta V, Kumar M, Brahmbhatt H et al (2011) Simultaneous determination of different endogenetic plant growth regulators in common green seaweeds using dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction method. Plant Physiol Biochem 49:1259–1263

  24. Hamed SM, El-Rhman AAA, Abdel-Raouf N, Ibraheem IB (2017) Role of marine macroalgae in plant protection & improvement for sustainable agriculture technology. Beni-Suef Univ J Basic Appl Sci 7(1):104–110

  25. Hong DD, Hien HM, Son PN (2007) Seaweeds from Vietnam used for functional food, medicine and biofertilizer. J Appl Phycol 19:817–826

  26. Indira K, Balakrishnan S, Srinivasan M, Bragadeeswaran S, Balasubramanian T (2013) Evaluation of in vitro antimicrobial property of seaweed (Halimeda tuna) from Tuticorin coast, Tamil Nadu, southeast coast of India. Afr J Biotechnol 12:284–289

  27. Jayaraj J, Wan A, Rahman M, Punja ZK (2008) Seaweed extract reduces foliar fungal diseases on carrot. Crop Prot 27(10):1360–1366

  28. Jayaraj J, Norrie J, Punja ZK (2011) Commercial extract from the brown seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum reduces fungal diseases in greenhouse cucumber. J Appl Phycol 23(3):353–361

  29. Jeannin I, Lescure JC, Morot-Gaudry JF (1991) The effects of aqueous seaweed sprays on the growth of maize. Bot Mar 334:469–473

  30. Jones JDG, Dangl JL (2006) The plant immune system. Nature 444(7117):323–329

  31. Kathiraven T, Sundaramanickam A, Shanmugam N, Balasubramanian T (2015) Green synthesis of silver nanoparticles using marine algae Caulerpa racemosa and their antibacterial activity against some human pathogens. Appl Nanosci 5(4):499–504

  32. Khan W, Rayirath UP, Subramanian S et al (2009) Seaweed extracts as bio-stimulants of plant growth and development. J Plant Growth Regul 28:386–399

  33. Khan ZH, Kahn MA, Aftab T, Idrees M, Naeem M (2011) Influence of alginate oligosaccharides on growth, yield and alkaloid production of opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.). Front Agric China 5:122–127

  34. Klarzynski O, Descamps V, Plesse B et al (2003) Sulfated fucan oligosaccharides elicit defence responses in tobacco and local and systemic resistance against Tobacco Mosaic Virus. Mol Plant-Microbe Interact 16:115–122

  35. Kumar CS, Sarada DVL, Rengasamy R (2008) Seaweed extracts control the leaf spot disease of the medicinal plant Gymnema sylvestre. Indian J Sci Technol 3:1–5

  36. Liu P, Yang Y, Pichersky E, Klessig DF (2010) Altering expression of benzoic acid/salicylic acid carboxyl methyltransferase 1 compromises systemic acquired resistance and PAMP-triggered immunity in Arabidopsis. Mol Plant Microbe Interact 23(1):82–90

  37. Mancuso S, Azzarello E, Mugnai S, Briand X (2006) Marine bioactive substances (IPA extract) improve foliar ion uptake and water stress tolerance in potted Vitis vinifera plants. Adv Hortic Sci 20:156–161

  38. Mattner SW, Wite D, Riches DA, Porter IJ, Arioli T (2013) The effect of kelp extract on seedling establishment of broccoli on contrasting soil types in southern Victoria. Aust Biol Agric Hortic 29:258–270

  39. Mattner SW, Villalta ON, Wite D, Porter IJ, Arioli T (2014) In vitro suppression of Sclerotinia minor by a seaweed extract from Durvillaea potatorum and Ascophyllum nodosum. Australas Plant Dis Notes 9(1):1–5

  40. Mayer A (2006) Polyphenol oxidases in plants and fungi: going places? Phytochemistry 67:2318–2331

  41. Mercier L, Lafitte C, Borderies G, Briand X, Esquerré-Tugayé MT, Fournier J (2001) The algal polysaccharide carrageenans can act as an elicitor of plant defence. New Phytol 149(1):43–51

  42. Milton RF (1964) Liquid seaweed as a fertilizer. Proc Int Seaweed Symp 4:428–431

  43. Mugnai S, Azzarello E, Pandolfi C et al (2008) Enhancement of ammonium and potassium root influxes by the application of marine bioactive substances positively affects Vitis vinifera plant growth. J Appl Phycol 20:177–182

  44. Nair P, Kandasamy S, Zhang J, Ji X, Kirby C, Benkel B, Prithiviraj B (2012) Transcriptional and metabolomic analysis of Ascophyllum nodosum mediated freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. BMC Genom 13(1):643

  45. Naseem M, Kunz M, Dandekar T (2014) Probing the unknowns in cytokinin-mediated immune defence in Arabidopsis with systems biology approaches. Bioinform Biol Insights 8:35–44

  46. Paulert R, Talamini V, Cassolato JEF, Duarte MER, Noseda MD, Smania A, Stadnik MJ (2009) Effects of sulfated polysaccharide and alcoholic extracts from green seaweed Ulva fasciata on anthracnose severity and growth of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). J Plant Dis Prot 116(6):263–270

  47. Perez MJ, Falque E, Domínguez H (2016) Antimicrobial action of compounds from marine seaweed. Mar Drugs 14(3):52

  48. Pieterse CMJ, Leon-Reyes A, Van der Ent S, Van Wees SCM (2009) Networking by small molecule hormones in plant immunity. Nat Chem Biol 5(5):308–316

  49. Raj TS, Graff KH, Suji HA (2018) Evaluation of various marine products against Rhizoctonia solani under in vitro condition. Afr J Microbiol Res 12(3):46–51

  50. Rathore SS, Chaudhary DR, Boricha GN (2009) Effect of seaweed extract on the growth, yield and nutrient uptake of soybean (Glycine max) under rainfed conditions. S Afr J Bot 75:351–355

  51. Rayirath P, Benkel B, Hodges DM (2009) Lipophilic components of the brown seaweed, Ascophyllum nodosum, enhance freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. Planta 230:135–147

  52. Rayorath P, Jithesh MN, Farid A, Khan W, Palanisamy R, Hankins SD, Critchley AT, Prithiviraj B (2008) Rapid bioassays to evaluate the plant growth promoting activity of Ascophyllum nodosum (L.) Le Jol. using a model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. J Appl Phycol 20:423–429

  53. Reitz SR, Trumble SR (1996) Effects of cytokinins containing seaweed extract on Phaseolus lunatus L.: influence on nutrient availability and apex removal. Bot Mar 39:33–38

  54. Rioux LE, Turgeon SL, Beaulieu M (2007) Characterization of polysaccharides extracted from brown seaweeds. Carbohydr Polym 69:530–537

  55. Rioux LE, Turgeon SL, Beaulieu M (2009) Effect of season on the composition of bioactive polysaccharides from brown seaweed Saccharina longicruris. Phytochemistry 70:1069–1075

  56. Robert-Seilaniantz A, Navarro L, Bari R, Jones JD (2007) Pathological hormone imbalances. Curr Opin Plant Biol 10(4):372–379

  57. Sangha JS, Kandasamy S, Khan W, Bahia NS, Singh RP, Critchley AT, Prithiviraj B (2015) λ-carrageenan suppresses tomato chlorotic dwarf viroid (TCDVd) replication and symptom expression in tomatoes. Mar Drugs 13(5):2875–2889

  58. Sarfaraz A, Naeem M, Nasir S (2011) An evaluation of the effects of irradiated sodium alginate on the growth, physiological activities and essential oil production of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.). J Med Plants Res 5:15–21

  59. Sarkar G, Jatar N, Goswami P, Cyriac R, Suthindhiran K, Jayasri MA (2018) Combination of different marine algal extracts as biostimulant and biofungicide. J Plant Nutr 41(9):1163–1171

  60. Sharma SHS, Lyons G, McRoberts C et al (2012) Bio-stimulant activity of brown seaweed species from Strangford Lough: compositional analyses of polysaccharides and bioassay of extracts using mung bean (Vigno mungo L.) and pak choi (Brassica rapa chinensis L.). J Appl Phycol 24:1081–1091

  61. Sharma HS, Fleming C, Selby C, Rao JR, Martin T (2014) Plant biostimulants: a review on the processing of macroalgae and use of extracts for crop management to reduce abiotic and biotic stresses. J Appl Phycol 26(1):465–490

  62. Shekhar SHS, Lyons G, McRoberts C et al (2012) Brown seaweed species from Strangford Lough: compositional analyses of seaweed species and bio-stimulant formulations by rapid instrumental methods. J Appl Phycol 24:1141–1157

  63. Sivasankari S, Venkatesalu V, Anantharaj M, Chandrasekaran M (2006) Effect of seaweed extracts on the growth and biochemical constituents of Vigna sinensis. Bioresour Technol 97:1745–1751

  64. Stirk WA, Van Staden J (1996) Comparison of cytokinin-and auxin-like activity in some commercially used seaweed extracts. J Appl Phycol 8(6):503–508

  65. Stirk WA, Novak O, Strnad M, van Staden J (2003) Cytokinins in macroalgae. Plant Growth Regul 41:13–24

  66. Tarakhovskaya ER, Maslov YI, Shishova MF (2007) Phytohormones in algae. Russ J Plant Physiol 54:163–170

  67. Vera J, Castro J, Contreras R, Gonzalez A, Moenne A (2012) Oligo-carrageenans induce a long-term and broad-range protection against pathogens in tobacco plants (var. Xanthi). Physiol Mol Plant Pathol 79:31–39

  68. Wite D, Mattner SW, Porter IJ, Arioli T (2015) The suppressive effect of a commercial extract from Durvillaea potatorum and Ascophyllum nodosum on infection of broccoli by Plasmodiophora brassicae. J Appl Phycol 27(5):2157–2161

  69. Yakhin OI, Lubyanov AA, Yakhin IA, Brown PH (2017) Biostimulants in plant science: a global perspective. Front Plant Sci 7:2049

  70. Zhang X, Ervin EH (2004) Cytokinin-containing seaweed and humic acid extracts associated with creeping bent grass leaf cytokinins and drought resistance. Crop Sci 44:1737–1745

  71. Zhang X, Ervin EH (2008) Impact of seaweed extract-based cytokinins and zeatin riboside on creeping bent grass heat tolerance. Crop Sci 48:364–370

  72. Zhang Q, Zhang J, Shen J, Silva A, Dennis DA (2006) A simple 96-well microplate method for estimation of total polyphenol content in seaweeds. J Appl Phycol 18:445–450

  73. Zhang X, Wang K, Ervin EH (2010) Optimizing dosages of seaweed extract-based cytokinins and zeatin biocide for improving creeping bent grass heat tolerance. Crop Sci 50:316–320

  74. Zipfel C, Felix G (2005) Plants and animals: a different taste for microbes? Curr Opin Plant Biol 8(4):353–360

  75. Zodape ST, Kawarkhe VJ, Patolia JS, Warade AD (2008) Effect of liquid seaweed fertilizer on yield and quality of okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.). J Sci Ind Res 67:1115–1117

  76. Zodape ST, Gupta A, Bhandari SC et al (2011) Foliar application of seaweed sap as bio stimulant for enhancement of yield and quality of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.). J Sci Ind Res 70:215–219

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to J. S. Patel.

Additional information

Editorial responsibility: M. Abbaspour.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mukherjee, A., Patel, J.S. Seaweed extract: biostimulator of plant defense and plant productivity. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 17, 553–558 (2020) doi:10.1007/s13762-019-02442-z

Download citation


  • Agricultural sustainability
  • Host defense
  • Bio-stimulants
  • Plant growth promotion