The Effect of Humic Acid on the Growth and Physiological Indices of Pistachio Seedling (Pistacia vera) under Drought Stress

Document Type: Research Article


Pistachio Research Center, Horticultural Sciences Research Institute, Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Rafsanjan, Iran



This study was carried out to evaluate the effect of soil application of humic acid on growth and physiological indices of pistachio seedlings ("Badami Zarand" rootstock) under drought stress. This experiment was arranged as a completely randomized design with three replications in greenhouse conditions. The experimental treatments consisted of humic acid (0, 30 and 60 gr in 4 kg-1 soil in pot) and irrigation intervals (7, 20 and 30 days). The studied  growth parameters included of stem height, leaf number, leaf area, stem diameter, biomass of root and shoot and physiological indices in leaves such as relative water content (RWC), relative water loss (RWL), leaf water content (LWC), excised leaf water retention (ELWR), excised leaf water loss (ELWL) and relative water protection (RWP). In this experiment, the results showed that relative water content reduced and relative water loss increased in leaf in irrigation interval of 30 days. The results indicated that the application of humic acid increased the vegetative growth of pistachio seedling in comparison with the control under high irrigation interval (p<0.05). The results also showed that relative water content and relative water protection significantly increased with the application of humic acid (p<0.05). These results indicated that the pistachio seedlings were sensitive to water stress and the application of humic acid under drought stress could be an appropriate management strategy to improve the growth of seedlings in pistachio orchards in arid and semi-arid areas of Iran.


Abdipour, M., Hosseinifarahi, M. and Najafian, S., 2019. Effects of humic acid and cow manure biochar (CMB) in culture medium on growth and mineral concentrations of basil plant. International Journal of Horticultural Science and Technology, 6(1), pp.27-38.

Abootalebi Jahromi, A. and Hassanzadeh Khankahdani, H., 2016. Effect of humic acid on some vegetative traits and ion concentrations of Mexican Lime (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle) seedlings under salt stress. International Journal of Horticultural Science and Technology, 3(2), pp.255-264.

Albayrak S, Camas N (2005) Effect of different levels and application times of humic acid on root and leaf yield and yield component of forage turpin. Journal of Agronomy. 42, 130-133.

Alizade A (2002) Soil, Water and Plants Relationship. 3rd Edn., Emam Reza University Press, Mashhad, Iran, ISBN: 964-6582-21-4. pp. 737.

Ashraf M (2004) Some important physiological selection criteria for salt tolerance in plants. Flora. 199, 361-376.

Ashraf M, Foolad MA (2007) Improving plant abiotic-stress resistance by exogenous application of osmoprotectants glycine betaine and proline. Environmental Journal of Experiment Botany. 59, 206-216.

Ashraf M, Ozturk M, Athar HR (2008) Salinity and Water Stress (Eds). Series: tasks forvegetation science series 44. Improving Crop Efficiency. Springer-Verlag, Netherland. pp.246.

Bagheri V, Shamshiri MH, Shirani H, Roosta HR (2012) Nutrient uptake and distribution in mycorrhizal pistachio seedlings under drought stress. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology. 14, 1591–1604.

Barzegar, T., Moradi, P., Nikbakht, J. and Ghahremani, Z., 2016. Physiological response of Okra cv. Kano to foliar application of putrescine and humic acid under water deficit stress. International Journal of Horticultural Science and Technology, 3(2), pp.187-197.

Blokhina O, Virolainen E, Fagerstedt KV (2003) Anti-oxidative damage and oxygen deprivation stress. Annals of Botany. 91, 179-194.

Blum A (2005) Drought resistance, water-use efficiency, and yield potential are they compatible, dissonant, or mutually exclusive? Australian Journal of Agricultural Research. 56, 1159–1168.

Burdon J (2001) Are the traditional concepts of the structures of humic substances realistic? Soil Science. 6,752-769.

Cavani L, Ciavatta C, Gessa C (2003) Identification of organic matter from peat, leonardite and lignite fertilisers using humification parameters and electro focussing. Bioresource Technology. 86, 45−52.

Chandra D, Islam MA (2003) Genetic variation and heritability of excised-leaf water loss and its relationship with yield and yield components of F5 bulks in five wheat crosses. Journal of Biological Sciences. 3, 1032–1039.

Chaves MM, Maroco JP, Pereira JS (2003) Understanding Plant Responses to Drought from Genes to the Whole Plant. Functional Plant Biology. 30, 239-264.

Çimrin KM, Türkmen O, Turan M, Tuncer B (2010)Phosphorus andhumic acid application alleviate salinity stress of pepper seedling. African Journal of Biotechnology. 9(36), 5845-5851.

Cornic G (2000) Drought stress inhibits Photosynthesis By decreasing stomatal aperture- Not by affecting ATP synthesis. Trends Plant Science. 5, 187-198.

Davies G, Ghabbour EA, Steelink C (2001) Humic acids: Marvelous products of soil chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education. 78, 1609-1614.

El-Tayeb N (2006) Differential response of two Vicia faba cultivars to drought: growth, pigments, lipid peroxidation, organic solutes, catalase and peroxidase activity. Acta Agronomica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. 54, 25‒37.

Eyheraguibel B, Silvestre J, Morard P (2008) Effects of humic substances derived from organic waste enhancement on the growth and mineral nutrition of maize. Bioresource Technology. 99, 4206–4212.

Fallahi, H.R., Ghorbany, M., Samadzadeh, A., Aghhavani-Shajari, M. and Asadian, A.H., 2016. Influence of arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculation and humic acid application on growth and yield of Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) and its mycorrhizal colonization index under deficit irrigation. International Journal of Horticultural Science and Technology, 3(2), pp.113-128.

Fardooei AR (2001) Evaluation of salt and drought resistance of two pistachio species (Pistacia khinjuk and P. mutica) in terms of ecophysiological and growth characteristics, Doctoral dissertation, Ghent university, 187.

Ferguson L, Poss JA, Grattan SR, Grieve CM, Wang D, Wilson C, Donovan Chao CT (2002) Pistachio rootstocks influence scion growth and ion relations under salinity and boron stress. American Journal of Society Science. 127, 194-199.

GhorbaniS, khazraei H, Kafi M, banayan M (2010) The effect of humic acid in water irrigation on yield and component yields of Zea mays L. Agricultural Journal. 2(1), 123-131.

Hasheminasab H, Aliakbari A, Aliakbari A, Baniasadi R (2014) Optimizing the relative water protection (RWP) as novel approach for monitoring drought tolerance in Iranian pistachio cultivars using graphical analysis. International Journal of Biosciences. 4(1), 194-204.

Javanshah A, Afrousheh M (2018) The importance of applying moisture retaining compounds in pistachio seedling growth medium under drought stress. Pistachio and Health Journal. 1(4), 38-47

Kang Y, Han Y, Torres-Jerez I, Wang M, Tang Y, Monteros M, Udvardi M (2011) System responses to long-term drought and re-watering of two contrasting alfalfa varieties. Journal of Plant. 68, 871–889.

Khaled H, Fawy HA (2011) Effect of Different Levels of Humic Acids on the Nutrient Content, Plant Growth, and Soil Properties under Conditions of Salinity.Soil and Water Resource. 6(1), 21–29.

Lata C, Prasad M (2011) Role of DREBs in regulation of abiotic stress responses in plants. Journal of Experimental Botany. 62, 4731–4748.

Liu Y, Fiskum G, Schubert D (2002) Generation of reactive oxygen species by mitochondrial electron transport chain. Journal of Neurochemistry. 80, 780-787.

Lugojan C, Ciulca S (2011) Evaluation of relative water content in winter wheat. Journal of Horticulture, Forestry and Biotechnology. 15, 173–177.

Miller G, Suzuki N, Ciftci-Yilmaz S, Miller R (2010) Reactive oxygen species homeostasis and signaling during drought and salinity stresses. Journal of Plant, Cell and Environment. 33, 453–467.

Mirzavand S, Sorkheh K, Siahpoosh MR (2017) Peroxidase gene-based estimation of genetic relationships and population structure among wild pistachio species populations. Biochemical Genetics. 55, 1-14.

Mora V, Bacaicoa E, Zamarreño AM, Aguirre E, Garnica M, Fuentes M, García-Mina JM (2010) Action of humic acid on promotion of cucumber shoot growth involves nitrate-related changes associated with the root-to-shoot distribution of cytokinins, polyamines and mineral nutrients. Journal of Plant Physiology. 167, 633–642.

Pena-Mendez EM, Havel J, Patocka J (2005) Humic substances, compounds of still unknown structure: applications in agriculture, industry, environment, and biomedicine Journal of Applied Biomedicine. 3, 13-24.

Picchioni GA, Miyamota S (1990) Salt effects on growth and ion uptake of pistachio rootstock seedlings. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 115, 647–653.

Römheld V, Neumann G (2006) The Rhizosphere: Contributions of the soil-Root Interface to Sustainable Soil Systems. In: Uphoff, N. Ball A, Fernandes E, Herren H, Husson O, Laing M, Palm C, Pretty JN, Sánchez PA, Sanginga N, Thies J. (ed.) Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil Systems. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. pp. 91-107.

Sedaghati N, Hokmabadi H (2015) Optimizing Pistachio Irrigation Management Using the Relationship between Echo-physiological Characteristics and Water Stress. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology. 17, 189-200.

Shi H, Wang Y, Cheng Z, Ye T, Chan Z (2012a) Analysis of natural variation in bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) reveals physiological responses underlying drought tolerance. PLOS ONE. 7(12), e53422.

Tahir MM, Khurshid M, Khan MZ, Abbasi MK, Hazmi MH (2011) Lignite-derived humic acid effect on growth of wheat plants in different soils. Pedosphere. 2, 124–131.

Walker DJ, Bernal MP (2008) The effects of olive mill waste compost and poultry manure on the availability and plant uptake of nutrients in a highly saline soil. Bioresource and Technology. 99, 396-403.

Wang Y, Combe C, Clark MM (2001) The effects of pH and calcium on the diffusion coefficient of humic acid. Journal of Membrane Science. 183, 49-60.

Yoo CY, Pence HE, Jin JB, Miura K, Gosney MJ, Hasegawa PM, Mickelbart MV (2010) The Arabidopsis GTL1 transcription factor regulates water use efficiency and drought tolerance by modulating stomatal density via trans repression of SDD1. Journal of PlantCell. 22, 4128–4141.