Garden-waste-vermicompost leachate alleviates salinity stress in tomato seedlings by mobilizing salt tolerance mechanisms
The incidence of salinity-induced plant stress as a result of natural and anthropogenic factors in arid and semi-arid agricultural lands is great. In South Africa alone, 9 % of irrigated agricultural land is salt-affected. Commercial fertilizers used for improving soil nutrient levels are costly and affect the quality, lifespan and sustainability of soil and water resources. Organic farming practices are based on cost-effective and environmentally-aware management systems. Vermicompost leachate (VCL) is a vermicompost-derived liquid product that has become recognised as a suitable soil amendment product. Commercial tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill var. Heinz-1370) seedlings were subjected to sodium chloride (NaCl) concentrations of 0, 25, 50 and 100 mM and were treated with 1:10 (v/v) WizzardWorms VCL prepared in Hoagland’s nutrient solution under greenhouse conditions. Morphological characters of VCL-treated tomato seedlings showed improved root growth and stimulated overall aboveground growth with significantly higher numbers of leaves, greater stem thickness and increased leaf area, even at a high NaCl-tested concentration (100 mM). The accumulation of compatible solutes such as proline and total soluble sugars indicate an induced salt tolerance or adaptive mechanism in VCL-treated tomato seedlings. The current investigation demonstrates the potential of an organic liquid to maximise tomato productivity by improving seedling growth performance under salt stress conditions.
KeywordsTomato Vermicompost leachate Proline Total soluble sugars Salinity Stress
The University of KwaZulu-Natal is thanked for the award of Postdoctoral Fellowships to first two authors. We thank Mr Don Blacklaw of Wizzard Worms, Rietvlei, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, for providing vermicompost leachate analytical data.
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