Effects of Non-thermal Plasma Treatment on Plant Physiological and Biochemical Processes

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Physiology and Metabolism".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2021) | Viewed by 35664

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Special Issue Editors

Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Vytautas Magnus University, Vileikos str. 8, 44404 Kaunas, Lithuania
Interests: cell biology; plant biochemistry; stress response and signal transduction; bioenergetics, systems biology; plasma applications for agriculture
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The potential of cold plasma-based applications in sustainable agriculture is supported by numerous studies which have gathered experimental evidence that plasma treatment of seeds, water or plants can be used to improve yields, increase the size and the robustness of plants, and to reduce the need of antifungal agents, as well as other chemicals. However, the development of reliable and manageable agro biotechnologies is ultimately based on the understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying such effects. Despite considerable efforts, such knowledge still remains elusive. Recent breakthroughs in this area are strongly linked to recent discoveries in plant physiology and biochemistry related to topics of plant plasticity, adaptability, stress response and communication. Short plasma treatments of plant materials can induce various changes in plant development and metabolism that persist for a long time. We are only beginning to understand how to use very complex molecular mechanisms for mobilisation of plant resources and for improvement of agricultural plant performance. It is likely that investigations of plasma-induced changes in plant physiological and biochemical processes may reveal new facts of both fundamental and applied importance. This Special Issue of Plants aims to present the most recent findings on changes in plant signal transduction, metabolism, development, and physiological processes induced by exposure of seeds or plants to cold plasma or plasma-activated water and leading to increased plant productivity.

Prof. Vida Mildažienė
Dr. Božena Šerá
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Antioxidant
  • Assimilation of minerals and nutrients
  • Biomass production
  • Biosynthesis
  • Cold plasma
  • Enzyme activity
  • Germination
  • Gene expression
  • Metabolism
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Nutritive value
  • Protein expression
  • Photosynthesis
  • Phytohormones
  • Plasma activated water
  • Resistance to pathogens
  • ROS production
  • Secondary metabolites
  • Signal transduction
  • Stress resistance
  • Plant growth
  • Productivity
  • Transpiration

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Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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5 pages, 212 KiB  
Editorial
Effects of Non-Thermal Plasma Treatment on Plant Physiological and Biochemical Processes
Plants 2022, 11(8), 1018; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11081018 - 08 Apr 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1456
Abstract
Plasma, also called the fourth state of matter, is partially or fully ionized gas [...] Full article

Research

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16 pages, 1576 KiB  
Article
The Potential of Cold Plasma and Electromagnetic Field as Stimulators of Natural Sweeteners Biosynthesis in Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni
Plants 2022, 11(5), 611; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11050611 - 24 Feb 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2097
Abstract
Stevioside (Stev) and rebaudioside A (RebA) are the most abundant steviol glycosides (SGs) responsible for the sweetness of Stevia rabaudiana Bertoni. As compared to Stev, RebA has a higher sweetening potency, better taste and therefore is the most preferred component of the stevia [...] Read more.
Stevioside (Stev) and rebaudioside A (RebA) are the most abundant steviol glycosides (SGs) responsible for the sweetness of Stevia rabaudiana Bertoni. As compared to Stev, RebA has a higher sweetening potency, better taste and therefore is the most preferred component of the stevia leaf extracts. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of pre-sowing seed treatment with abiotic stressors cold plasma (CP) and electromagnetic field (EMF) on the amount and ratio of RebA and Stev in the leaves of stevia. Additionally, the effect on total phenolic content, flavonoid content and antioxidant activity was investigated. Seeds were treated 5 and 7 min with cold plasma (CP5 and CP7 groups) and 10 min with electromagnetic field (EMF10 group) six days before sowing. The germination tests in vitro demonstrated that all treatments slightly increased germination rate and percentage. HPLC analysis revealed that CP and EMF had strong stimulating effect on SGs accumulation. All treatments increased RebA concentration approximately 1.6-fold; however, the ratio of RebA/Stev decreased from 8.5 in the control to 1.9, 2.5 and 1.1 in CP5, CP7 and EMF10 groups respectively, since the concentration of Stev increased more than RebA, 7.1, 4.6 and 11.0-fold, respectively, compared to control. However, treatments had opposite effect on total phenolic content, flavonoid content, and antioxidant activity. We have demonstrated for the first time that short time pre-sowing treatment of stevia seeds with CP and EMF can be a powerful tool for the enhancement of biosynthesis of RebA and Stev, however it can have negative impact on the content of other secondary metabolites. Full article
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15 pages, 4883 KiB  
Article
Plasma-Activated Water Triggers Rapid and Sustained Cytosolic Ca2+ Elevations in Arabidopsis thaliana
Plants 2021, 10(11), 2516; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10112516 - 19 Nov 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2377
Abstract
Increasing evidence indicates that water activated by plasma discharge, termed as plasma-activated water (PAW), can promote plant growth and enhance plant defence responses. Nevertheless, the signalling pathways activated in plants in response to PAW are still largely unknown. In this work, we analysed [...] Read more.
Increasing evidence indicates that water activated by plasma discharge, termed as plasma-activated water (PAW), can promote plant growth and enhance plant defence responses. Nevertheless, the signalling pathways activated in plants in response to PAW are still largely unknown. In this work, we analysed the potential involvement of calcium as an intracellular messenger in the transduction of PAW by plants. To this aim, Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) seedlings stably expressing the bioluminescent Ca2+ reporter aequorin in the cytosol were challenged with PAW generated by a plasma torch. Ca2+ measurement assays demonstrated the induction by PAW of rapid and sustained cytosolic Ca2+ elevations in Arabidopsis seedlings. The dynamics of the recorded Ca2+ signals were found to depend upon different parameters, such as the operational conditions of the torch, PAW storage, and dilution. The separate administration of nitrate, nitrite, and hydrogen peroxide at the same doses as those measured in the PAW did not trigger any detectable Ca2+ changes, suggesting that the unique mixture of different reactive chemical species contained in the PAW is responsible for the specific Ca2+ signatures. Unveiling the signalling mechanisms underlying plant perception of PAW may allow to finely tune its generation for applications in agriculture, with potential advantages in the perspective of a more sustainable agriculture. Full article
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16 pages, 2302 KiB  
Article
Increase of Productivity and Neutralization of Pathological Processes in Plants of Grain and Fruit Crops with the Help of Aqueous Solutions Activated by Plasma of High-Frequency Glow Discharge
Plants 2021, 10(10), 2161; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10102161 - 12 Oct 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2142
Abstract
In this work, we, for the first time, manufactured a plasma-chemical reactor operating at a frequency of 0.11 MHz. The reactor allows for the activation of large volumes of liquids in a short time. The physicochemical properties of activated liquids (concentration of hydrogen [...] Read more.
In this work, we, for the first time, manufactured a plasma-chemical reactor operating at a frequency of 0.11 MHz. The reactor allows for the activation of large volumes of liquids in a short time. The physicochemical properties of activated liquids (concentration of hydrogen peroxide, nitrate anions, redox potential, electrical conductivity, pH, concentration of dissolved gases) are characterized in detail. Antifungal activity of aqueous solutions activated by a glow discharge has been investigated. It was shown that aqueous solutions activated by a glow discharge significantly reduce the degree of presence of phytopathogens and their effect on the germination of such seeds. Seeds of cereals (sorghum and barley) and fruit (strawberries) crops were studied. The greatest positive effect was found in the treatment of sorghum seeds. Moreover, laboratory tests have shown a significant increase in sorghum drought tolerance. The effectiveness of the use of glow-discharge-activated aqueous solutions was shown during a field experiment, which was set up in the saline semi-desert of the Northern Caspian region. Thus, the technology developed by us makes it possible to carry out the activation of aqueous solutions on an industrial scale. Water activated by a glow discharge exhibits antifungicidal activity and significantly accelerates the development of the grain and fruit crops we studied. In the case of sorghum culture, glow-discharge-activated water significantly increases drought resistance. Full article
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20 pages, 11499 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Plasma Activated Water on Maize (Zea mays L.) under Arsenic Stress
Plants 2021, 10(9), 1899; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10091899 - 14 Sep 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2159
Abstract
Plasma activated water (PAW) is a source of various chemical species useful for plant growth, development, and stress response. In the present study, PAW was generated by a transient spark discharge (TS) operated in ambient air and used on maize corns and seedlings [...] Read more.
Plasma activated water (PAW) is a source of various chemical species useful for plant growth, development, and stress response. In the present study, PAW was generated by a transient spark discharge (TS) operated in ambient air and used on maize corns and seedlings in the 3 day paper rolls cultivation followed by 10 day hydroponics cultivation. For 3 day cultivation, two pre-treatments were established, “priming PAW” and “rolls PAW”, with corns imbibed for 6 h in the PAW and then watered daily by fresh water and PAW, respectively. The roots and the shoot were then analyzed for guaiacol peroxidase (G-POX, POX) activity, root tissues for their lignification, and root cell walls for in situ POX activity. To evaluate the potential of PAW in the alleviation abiotic stress, ten randomly selected seedlings were hydroponically cultivated for the following 10 days in 0.5 Hoagland nutrient solutions with and without 150 μM As. The seedlings were then analyzed for POX and catalase (CAT) activities after As treatment, their leaves for photosynthetic pigments concentration, and leaves and roots for As concentration. The PAW improved the growth of the 3 day-old seedlings in terms of the root and the shoot length, while roots revealed accelerated endodermal development. After the following 10 day cultivation, roots from PAW pre-treatment were shorter and thinner but more branched than the control roots. The PAW also enhanced the POX activity immediately after the imbibition and in the 3 day old roots. After 10 day hydroponic cultivation, antioxidant response depended on the PAW pre-treatment. CAT activity was higher in As treatments compared to the corresponding PAW treatments, while POX activity was not obvious, and its elevated activity was found only in the priming PAW treatment. The PAW pre-treatment protected chlorophylls in the following treatments combined with As, while carotenoids increased in treatments despite PAW pre-treatment. Finally, the accumulation of As in the roots was not affected by PAW pre-treatment but increased in the leaves. Full article
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21 pages, 2937 KiB  
Article
Physiological Responses of Young Pea and Barley Seedlings to Plasma-Activated Water
Plants 2021, 10(8), 1750; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10081750 - 23 Aug 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 3177
Abstract
This study demonstrates the indirect effects of non-thermal ambient air plasmas (NTP) on seed germination and plant growth. It investigates the effect of plasma-activated water (PAW) on 3-day-old seedlings of two important farm plants—barley and pea. Applying different types of PAW on pea [...] Read more.
This study demonstrates the indirect effects of non-thermal ambient air plasmas (NTP) on seed germination and plant growth. It investigates the effect of plasma-activated water (PAW) on 3-day-old seedlings of two important farm plants—barley and pea. Applying different types of PAW on pea seedlings exhibited stimulation of amylase activity and had no inhibition of seed germination, total protein concentration or protease activity. Moreover, PAW caused no or only moderate oxidative stress that was in most cases effectively alleviated by antioxidant enzymes and proved by in situ visualization of H2O2 and ˙O2. In pea seedlings, we observed a faster turn-over from anaerobic to aerobic metabolism proved by inhibition of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) activity. Additionally, reactive oxygen/nitrogen species contained in PAW did not affect the DNA integrity. On the other hand, the high level of DNA damage in barley together with the reduced root and shoot length and amylase activity was attributed to the oxidative stress caused by PAW, which was exhibited by the enhanced activity of guaiacol peroxidase or ADH. Our results show the glow discharge PAW at 1 min activation time as the most promising for pea. However, determining the beneficial type of PAW for barley requires further investigation. Full article
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13 pages, 2695 KiB  
Article
Response of Two Different Wheat Varieties to Glow and Afterglow Oxygen Plasma
Plants 2021, 10(8), 1728; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10081728 - 20 Aug 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1905
Abstract
Cold plasma technology has received significant attention in agriculture due to its effect on the seeds and plants of important cultivars, such as wheat. Due to climate change, wherein increasing temperatures and droughts are frequent, it is important to consider novel approaches to [...] Read more.
Cold plasma technology has received significant attention in agriculture due to its effect on the seeds and plants of important cultivars, such as wheat. Due to climate change, wherein increasing temperatures and droughts are frequent, it is important to consider novel approaches to agricultural production. As increased dormancy levels in wheat are correlated with high temperatures and drought, improving the germination and root growth of wheat seeds could offer new possibilities for seed sowing. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of direct (glow) and indirect (afterglow) radio-frequency (RF) oxygen plasma treatments on the germination of two winter wheat varieties: Apache and Bezostaya 1. The influence of plasma treatment on seed surface morphology was studied using scanning electron microscopy, and it was observed that direct plasma treatment resulted in a high etching and nanostructuring of the seed surface. The effect of plasma treatment on germination was evaluated by measuring the germination rate, counting the number of roots and the length of the root system, and the fresh weight of seedlings. The results of this study indicate that the response of seeds to direct and indirect plasma treatment may be variety-dependent, as differences between the two wheat varieties were observed. Full article
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13 pages, 2310 KiB  
Article
Non-Thermal Plasma Treatment Influences Shoot Biomass, Flower Production and Nutrition of Gerbera Plants Depending on Substrate Composition and Fertigation Level
Plants 2021, 10(4), 689; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10040689 - 02 Apr 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2339
Abstract
Non-thermal plasma (NTP) appears a promising strategy for supporting crop protection, increasing yield and quality, and promoting environmental safety through a decrease in chemical use. However, very few NTP applications on containerized crops are reported under operational growing conditions and in combination with [...] Read more.
Non-thermal plasma (NTP) appears a promising strategy for supporting crop protection, increasing yield and quality, and promoting environmental safety through a decrease in chemical use. However, very few NTP applications on containerized crops are reported under operational growing conditions and in combination with eco-friendly growing media and fertigation management. In this work, NTP technology is applied to the nutrient solution used for the production of gerbera plants grown in peat or green compost, as an alternative substrate to peat, and with standard or low fertilization. NTP treatment promotes fresh leaf and flower biomass production in plants grown in peat and nutrient adsorption in those grown in both substrates, except for Fe, while decreasing dry plant matter. However, it causes a decrease in the leaf and flower biomasses of plants grown in compost, showing a substrate-dependent effect under a low fertilization regime. In general, the limitation in compost was probably caused by the high-substrate alkalinization that commonly interferes with gerbera growth. Under low fertilization, a reduction in the photosynthetic capacity further penalizes plant growth in compost. A lower level of fertilization also decreases gerbera quality, highlighting that Ca, Mg, Mn, and Fe could be reduced with respect to standard fertilization. Full article
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Review

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37 pages, 1345 KiB  
Review
Biochemical and Physiological Plant Processes Affected by Seed Treatment with Non-Thermal Plasma
Plants 2022, 11(7), 856; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11070856 - 23 Mar 2022
Cited by 27 | Viewed by 5528
Abstract
Among the innovative technologies being elaborated for sustainable agriculture, one of the most rapidly developing fields relies on the positive effects of non-thermal plasma (NTP) treatment on the agronomic performance of plants. A large number of recent publications have indicated that NTP effects [...] Read more.
Among the innovative technologies being elaborated for sustainable agriculture, one of the most rapidly developing fields relies on the positive effects of non-thermal plasma (NTP) treatment on the agronomic performance of plants. A large number of recent publications have indicated that NTP effects are far more persistent and complex than it was supposed before. Knowledge of the molecular basis and the resulting outcomes of seed treatment with NTP is rapidly accumulating and requires to be analyzed and presented in a systematic way. This review focuses on the biochemical and physiological processes in seeds and plants affected by seed treatment with NTP and the resulting impact on plant metabolism, growth, adaptability and productivity. Wide-scale changes evolving at the epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolic levels are triggered by seed irradiation with NTP and contribute to changes in germination, early seedling growth, phytohormone amounts, metabolic and defense enzyme activity, secondary metabolism, photosynthesis, adaptability to biotic and abiotic stress, microbiome composition, and increased plant fitness, productivity and growth on a longer time scale. This review highlights the importance of these novel findings, as well as unresolved issues that remain to be investigated. Full article
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15 pages, 886 KiB  
Review
Effects of Non-Thermal Plasma Treatment on Seed Germination and Early Growth of Leguminous Plants—A Review
Plants 2021, 10(8), 1616; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10081616 - 06 Aug 2021
Cited by 32 | Viewed by 4133
Abstract
The legumes (Fabaceae family) are the second most important agricultural crop, both in terms of harvested area and total production. They are an important source of vegetable proteins and oils for human consumption. Non-thermal plasma (NTP) treatment is a new and effective [...] Read more.
The legumes (Fabaceae family) are the second most important agricultural crop, both in terms of harvested area and total production. They are an important source of vegetable proteins and oils for human consumption. Non-thermal plasma (NTP) treatment is a new and effective method in surface microbial inactivation and seed stimulation useable in the agricultural and food industries. This review summarizes current information about characteristics of legume seeds and adult plants after NTP treatment in relation to the seed germination and seedling initial growth, surface microbial decontamination, seed wettability and metabolic activity in different plant growth stages. The information about 19 plant species in relation to the NTP treatment is summarized. Some important plant species as soybean (Glycine max), bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), mung bean (Vigna radiata), black gram (V. mungo), pea (Pisum sativum), lentil (Lens culinaris), peanut (Arachis hypogaea), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), and chickpea (Cicer aruetinum) are discussed. Likevise, some less common plant species i.g. blue lupine (Lupinus angustifolius), Egyptian clover (Trifolium alexandrinum), fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), and mimosa (Mimosa pudica, M. caesalpiniafolia) are mentioned too. Possible promising trends in the use of plasma as a seed pre-packaging technique, a reduction in phytotoxic diseases transmitted by seeds and the effect on reducing dormancy of hard seeds are also pointed out. Full article
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18 pages, 1526 KiB  
Review
Effects of Nonthermal Plasma on Morphology, Genetics and Physiology of Seeds: A Review
Plants 2020, 9(12), 1736; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9121736 - 09 Dec 2020
Cited by 58 | Viewed by 6225
Abstract
Nonthermal plasma (NTP), or cold plasma, has shown many advantages in the agriculture sector as it enables removal of pesticides and contaminants from the seed surface, increases shelf life of crops, improves germination and resistance to abiotic stress. Recent studies show that plasma [...] Read more.
Nonthermal plasma (NTP), or cold plasma, has shown many advantages in the agriculture sector as it enables removal of pesticides and contaminants from the seed surface, increases shelf life of crops, improves germination and resistance to abiotic stress. Recent studies show that plasma treatment indeed offers unique and environmentally friendly processing of different seeds, such as wheat, beans, corn, soybeans, barley, peanuts, rice and Arabidopsis thaliana, which could reduce the use of agricultural chemicals and has a high potential in ecological farming. This review covers the main concepts and underlying principles of plasma treatment techniques and their interaction with seeds. Different plasma generation methods and setups are presented and the influence of plasma treatment on DNA damage, gene expression, enzymatic activity, morphological and chemical changes, germination and resistance to stress, is explained. Important plasma treatment parameters and interactions of plasma species with the seed surface are presented and critically discussed in correlation with recent advances in this field. Although plasma agriculture is a relatively new field of research, and the complex mechanisms of interactions are not fully understood, it holds great promise for the future. This overview aims to present the advantages and limitations of different nonthermal plasma setups and discuss their possible future applications. Full article
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