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What we talk about when we talk about protein hydrolyzate-based biostimulants

Department of Agricultural Sciences, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, I-40127 Bologna, Italy

Special Editions: Use of biostimulant in agriculture to improve plant performance and crop quality

Protein hydrolyzates (PHs) are a well-known group of plant biostimulants that are obtained by thermal, chemical, enzymatic or mixed hydrolysis from animal or plant sources. PHs are mainly applied to plants with the aim to improve their nutrition level, stimulate metabolism, and increase resistance to abiotic stress. Chemically, the PHs are a mixture of free amino acids, oligo- and polypeptides. Considering the differences in the source materials and hydrolytic processes used for their production it is not surprising that PHs are a very complex and inhomogeneous category of biostimulants. This is a critical point that should be considered by both manufacturers and potential users of such products. With the aim to identify a putative correlation among PHs physic-chemical properties, the different source materials and the hydrolytic process used for their production, 22 PHs available on the market were analyzed for: (i) total amino acids concentration, (ii) free amino acids concentration, (iii) degree of racemization, (iv) degree of hydrolysis and (v) apparent average molecular size. The obtained results confirmed the inhomogeneity PHs. However, the chosen parameters were able to provide information about the above-mentioned correlation. Total amino acids in particular were useful for the identification of the original source material. The degree of racemization was useful for the identification of the type of hydrolysis used during production (chemical or enzymatic). The degree of hydrolysis and free amino acid concentrations were useful for the identification of the intensity of the hydrolytic process. The average molecular size was useful for the identification of polydispersity of the peptide size. In conclusion, the PHs can be adequately characterized only through a multi-analytical approach.
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Copyright Info: © 2017, Luciano Cavani, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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