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Quantitative and qualitative response of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) to application of humic acid and mycorrhizal fungi

Foroozan Nikkhah Naeeni, Ali Reza Ladan Moghadam, Pezhman Moradi, Mehdi Rezaei and Vahid Abdoosi

Plant growth promoters such as humic acid (HA) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have a great potential in sustainable agriculture, especially under environmental stresses. Although the contribution of bio-stimulants to crop yield has been well documented, however, few studies have been carried out about their effects on medicinal plants. This study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of HA and AMF on milk thistle using multivariate statistical analyses. Results of cluster analysis showed that the combination of AMF and HA led to increase in morphological characteristics as well as yield and yield components, especially, when the plants were irrigated with 75 g•l-1 of HA. Also, content of plant pigments increased remarkably. However, antioxidant enzyme activity and silibinin content was reduced. It seems that application of AMF+ HA reduced environmental stresses through creating a suitable environment for growth, which resulted in decreased antioxidant enzyme activity and silibinin content of the leaves.

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