Eurasian Soil Science

, Volume 51, Issue 9, pp 1034–1041 | Cite as

On the Probable Nature of Biological Activity of Humic Substances

  • G. N. FedotovEmail author
  • S. A. Shoba
  • M. F. Fedotova
  • V. V. Demin
Soil Chemistry


It is common knowledge that humic substances extracted from different sources are characterized by high biological activity (BA), though the nature of this phenomenon is not quite clear up to now. To expand our understanding of the BA of humic substances, we studied the effect of humates prepared from humic acids of different origin on the germination of seeds. The efficiencies of seed treatment by humate solutions obtained from preliminary purified humic acids extracted from peat, coal, and soil differed insignificantly. At the same time, the solutions of salts of humic substances obtained via alkaline extraction from peat without subsequent purification did not lead to statistically significant biological effects. The analysis of literature and our own data allowed us to conclude that the biological activity of humic acids could be related to their capacity to regulate the growth processes via binding growth inhibitors released into the solution upon seed swelling into the supramolecular complexes.


presowing seed treatment seed germination biological activity of humates supramolecular complexes of humic substances phytohormones 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    I. V. Aleksandrova, “Physiological activity of humic substances and the products of their metabolism,” in Organic Matter of Virgin and Arable Soils (Nauka, Moscow, 1972), pp. 30–69.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    N. D. Alekhina, Yu. V. Balnokin, V. F. Gavrilenko, et al., The Plant Physiology, Ed. by I. P. Ermakov (Akademiya, Moscow, 2005) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    B. Alberts, A. Johnson, J. Lewis, M. Raff, K. Roberts, and P. Walter, Molecular Biology of the Cell (Garland, New York, 1983; Institute of Computer Sciences, Moscow, 2012).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    O. S. Bezuglova, Humic Substances in the Biosphere (Southern Federal Univ., Rostov-on-Don, 2009) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    S. A. Waksman, Humus. Origin, Chemical Composition, and Importance in Nature (Bailliere, Tindall and Cox, London, 1938; Sel’khozgiz, Moscow, 1937).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    A. I. Gorovaya, D. S. Orlov, and O. V. Shcherbenko, Humic Substances: Structure, Functions, Activity Mechanism, Protective Properties, and Ecological Role (Naukova Dumka, Kiev, 1995) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    A. M. Dmitriev and L. K. Stratskevich, The Plant Growth Stimulation, Ed. by N. F. Batygina (Uradzhai, Minsk, 1986) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    A. G. Zavarzina and V. V. Demin, “Acid-base properties of humic acids of different origin as seen from the potentiometric titration data,” Eurasian Soil Sci. 32 (10), 1115–1122 (1999).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Yu. A. Zavgorodnyaya, V. V. Demin, and A. V. Kurakov, “Biochemical degradation of soil humus and fungal melanins,” Org. Goekhim. 33, 347–355 (2003).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    M. M. Kononova, Organic Soil Matter: Nature, Properties, and Study Methods (Academy of Sciences of Soviet Union, Moscow, 1963) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    N. A. Krasil’nikov, Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants (Academy of Sciences of Soviet Union, Moscow, 1958) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    V. L. Kretovich, The Plant Biochemistry (Vysshaya Shkola, Moscow, 1986) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    G. S. Muromtsev, D. I. Chkanikov, O. N. Kulaeva, and K. Z. Gamburg, Chemical Regulation of Growth and Productivity of the Plants (Agropromizdat, Moscow, 1987) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    M. G. Nikolaeva, M. V. Razumova, and V. N. Gladkova, Handbook on Germination of Resting Seeds (Nauka, Leningrad, 1985) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    N. V. Obrucheva, “Seed germination,” in Physiology of Seeds (Nauka, Moscow, 1982), pp. 223–274.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    N. V. Obroucheva and O. V. Antipova, “Physiology of the initiation of seed germination,” Russ. J. Plant Physiol. 44, 250–264 (1997).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    K. E. Ovcharov, Physiology of Development and Germination of Seeds (Kolos, Moscow, 1976) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    D. S. Orlov, “Properties and functions of humic substances,” in Humic Substances in Biosphere (Nauka, Moscow, 1993), pp. 16–27.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    D. S. Orlov, V. V. Demin, and Yu. A. Zavgorodnyaya, “Influence of molecular parameters of humic acids on their biological activity,” Dokl. Akad. Nauk 354, 843–845 (1997).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    D. S. Orlov and L. A. Grishina, Practical Manual on Humus Chemistry (Moscow State Univ., Moscow, 1981) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    A. I. Popov, Humic Substances: Properties, Structure, and Synthesis (St. Petersburg State Univ., St. Petersburg, 2004) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    I. A. Savchenko, Candidate’s Dissertation in Pharmacy (Ulan-Ude, 2015).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    L. K. Sechnyak, N. A. Kindruk, O. K. Slyusarenko, V. G. Ivashchenko, and E. D. Kuznetsov, Ecology of Wheat Seeds (Kolos, Moscow, 1983) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    T. V. Soromotina, Practical Manual on Vegetable Growing (Prokrost’, Perm, 2016) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    I. V. Tyurin, Organic Matter and Its Role in Pedogenesis and Soil Fertility (Sl’khozgiz, Moscow, 1937) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    D. C. Walton, “Abscisic acid and seed germination,” in The Physiology and Biochemistry of Seed Dormancy and Germination (North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1977; Kolos, Moscow, 1982), pp. 145–178.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    L. A. Khristeva, “Effect of physiologically active forms of humic acids and other plant growth simulators,” in Humic Fertilizers: Theory and Practical Use (Kiev, 1968), Part 3, pp. 13–28.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    R. I. Tsreva, Chemistry of Peat Soil (Nauka i Tekhnika, Minsk, 1976) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    S. N. Chukov, Structural and Functional Parameters of Soil Organic Matter Affected by Anthropogenic Impact (St. Petersburg State Univ., St. Petersburg, 2001) [in Russian].Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    A. Albuzio, S. Nardi, and A. Gulli, “Plant growth regulator activity of small molecular size humic fractions,” Sci. Total Environ. 81–82, 671–674 (1989).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    A. Hassan, A. Yasir, R. Abdul, and M. Dost, “Effect of humic acid on root elongation and percent seed germination of wheat seeds,” Int. J. Agric. Crop Sci. 7 (4), 196–201 (2014).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    S. Nardi, D. Pizzeghello, A. Muscolo, and A. Vianello, “Physiological effects of humic substances on higher plants,” Soil Biol. Biochem. 34 (11), 1527–1536 (2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    I. V. Perminova, N. A. Kulikova, D. M. Zhilin, N. Yu. Grechischeva, D. V. Kovalevskii, G. F. Lebedeva, D. N. Matorin, P. S. Venediktov, A. I. Konstantinov, V. A. Kholodov, and V. S. Petrosyan, “Mediating effects of humic substances in the contaminated environments. Concepts, results, and prospects,” in Viable Methods of Soil and Water Pollution Monitoring, Protection and Remediation, NATO Science Series IV: Earth and Environmental Sciences (Springer-Verlag, New York, 2006), Vol. 69, pp. 249–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    A. Piccolo, “The supramolecular structure of humic substances,” Soil Sci. 166 (11), 810–832 (2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    G. E. Schaumann, “Soil organic matter beyond molecular structure Part I: Macromolecular and supramolecular characteristics,” J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci. 169, 145–156 (2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    R. Sutton and G. Sposito, “Molecular structure in soil humic substances: the new view,” Environ. Sci. Technol. 39, 9009–9015 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    S. Trevisan, O. Francioso, S. Quaggiotti, and S. Nardi, “Humic substances biological activity at the plant-soil interface. From environmental aspects to molecular factors,” Plant Signaling Behav. 5 (6), 635–643 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    D. B. Zandonadi, M. P. Santos, J. G. Busato, L. E. P. Peres, and A. R. Façanha, “Plant physiology as affected by humified organic matter,” Theor. Exp. Plant Physiol. 25 (1), 12–25 (2013).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Yu. A. Zavgorodnyaya, V. V. Demin, and A. V. Kurakov, “Biochemical degradation of soil humic acids and fungal melanins,” Org. Geochem. 33, 347–355 (2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. N. Fedotov
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. A. Shoba
    • 1
  • M. F. Fedotova
    • 1
  • V. V. Demin
    • 1
  1. 1.Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityVorob’evy gory, MoscowRussia

Personalised recommendations