3 BIOTECH, vol.8, 2018 (SCI-Expanded)
Berries have gained public attention for their presumed positive effects on cancer patients. In contrast, the potential of berries to mitigate damage caused by abiotic stress in plants has not received significant attention. This is the first quantitative analysis of the efficacy of Vaccinium arctostaphylos L. (Ericaceae) fruit extract (VAFE) used to bioprime maize to limit damage caused by salt stress. Salt stressed maize seedlings exhibit lower quantum efficiency of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) and photosynthetic pigment content relative to untreated controls however, Fv/Fm increase caused by VAFE was found marginal. VAFE biopriming limited pigment loss and increased levels of antioxidant enzymes. It improved the growth of salt stressed seedlings by reducing salt-induced biomass loss, damage to roots and shoots, lipid oxidation, proline synthesis and endogenous hydrogen peroxide concentrations. In sum, VAFE biopriming may provide a new approach to improve yields in soils containing high salt levels as an alternative to traditional agricultural practice.