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EBIC white paper challenges a common misconception about the mode of action of seaweed-based plant biostimulants


A common misconception about seaweed-based plant biostimulants is that their effects are due to the presence of plant hormones, when what actually makes them work so well is the biological compounds in the formulation, which elicit natural processes within the plant. In support of this fact, EBIC released a white paper entitled: “Recent insights into the mode of action of seaweed-based plant biostimulants”.

EBIC members have repeatedly reported over the years that some regulatory authorities were challenging their dossiers to place plant biostimulant products containing seaweed extracts on the market because they believed that the product would contain plant hormones, which are regulated as plant protection products in many jurisdictions. To that end, EBIC decided to write a white paper reviewing the science on this topic that our members could reference when facing this misconception. The paper was developed through EBIC’s Expert Network on Seaweed, integrated by representatives of the following companies: Alfarin, Ocean Knowledge, Yara International, Olmix, Arysta LifeScience, Brandon Bioscience, BioAtlantis, Rovensa Next, ICL Group, Acadian Plant Health, Valagro, Ilex EnviroSciences and Daymsa.



The paper, which went on to be featured by NewAG International, explains the current understanding of how seaweed-based biostimulants act on plants. After an extensive literature review, EBIC concluded that biomolecules naturally present in seaweed extracts, such as carbohydrates and polyphenols, modulate gene expression and induce metabolic changes in plants that lead to the observed biostimulant effects. These findings challenge a common misunderstanding by regulatory authorities that the effects of seaweed-based plant biostimulants are due to their content in plant hormones, and they open up new avenues for a more refined characterisation of their mode of action.

EBIC’s research sheds light on the importance of critically evaluating and reassessing historic assumptions. Challenging current understanding can foster innovation and unlock novel solutions to global challenges. Apart from preventing misconceptions from regulatory authorities all over the world, the goal of this white paper is to stimulate further research into the mode of action of plant biostimulants, particularly those containing seaweed extracts. Advances in “omics” technologies (genomics, metabolomics, etc.) currently allow for a very detailed characterisation of how products applied under certain conditions act on the gene expression of the target plant. If this white paper stimulates more research making use of these technologies, EBIC would be very satisfied.

At EBIC, we are committed to driving scientific excellence and advancing sustainable agriculture. Learn more about the white paper and its implications.