A global metabolic map defines the effects of a si-based biostimulant on tomato plants under normal and saline conditions

Kekeletso H. Chele, Paul Steenkamp, Lizelle A. Piater, Ian A. Dubery, Johan Huyser, Fidele Tugizimana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The ongoing unpredictability of climate changes is exponentially exerting a negative impact on crop production, further aggravating detrimental abiotic stress effects. Several research studies have been focused on the genetic modification of crop plants to achieve more crop resilience against such stress factors; however, there has been a paradigm shift in modern agriculture focusing on more organic, eco-friendly and long-lasting systems to improve crop yield. As such, extensive research into the use of microbial and nonmicrobial biostimulants has been at the core of agricultural studies to improve crop growth and development, as well as to attain tolerance against several biotic and abiotic stresses. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the biostimulant activity remain enigmatic. Thus, this study is a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)-based untargeted metabolomics approach to unravel the hypothetical biochemical framework underlying effects of a nonmicrobial biostimulant (a silicon-based formulation) on tomato plants (Solanum lycopersium) under salinity stress conditions. This metabolomics study postulates that Si-based biostimulants could alleviate salinity stress in tomato plants through modulation of the primary metabolism involving changes in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, fatty acid and numerous amino acid biosynthesis pathways, with further reprogramming of several secondary metabolism pathways such as the phenylpropanoid pathway, flavonoid biosynthesis pathways including flavone and flavanol biosynthesis. Thus, the postulated hypothetical framework, describing biostimulant-induced metabolic events in tomato plants, provides actionable knowledge necessary for industries and farmers to, confidently and innovatively, explore, design, and fully implement Si-based formulations and strategies into agronomic practices for sustainable agriculture and food production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number820
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Biostimulants
  • GNPS
  • Metabolomics
  • Molecular networking
  • Salt stress
  • Si-biostimulant
  • Stress tolerance
  • Tomato plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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