The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PNRI) has developed a plant growth promoter (PGP) from radiation-modified natural polymers such as seaweed (carrageenan) and chitosan (shells of shrimps). The effects of these PGPs are tested on rice, mungbean, and peanut.

Plant Growth Promoters developed from radiation-modified natural polymers 1

PNRI’s studies proved that PGPs are beneficial when applied to rice, mungbean, and peanut. Its advantages include: its environment-friendliness as it is a natural product; ability to increase crop productivity by stimulating flowering, and ability to promote nutrient uptake which increases crop yield.

Results of pot experiments showed that the PGPs from irradiated carrageenan and chitosan increased mungbean yield by an average of 300% and 190% for two seasons, respectively. Results indicate that most of the attributes (final height, pod length, number of seeds, 100-seed weight, and final yield) from plants treated with 30kGy radiation-modified carrageenan (RMC) and inoculant without fertilizer were significantly better than the other treatments including those without PGP and fertilizer.

A rice field sprayed with PGPs showed no signs of rice tungro bacilliform virus infestation. The field test was conducted at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). Meanwhile, test results on peanut pot experiments showed an increase in yield by 345% and 270% using oligo-carrageenan and oligo-chitosan, respectively. The effect of PGPs on peanut yield is being studied further using pot experiments with and without fertilizers.

PNRI is also studying the preparation of the seaweed, Kappaphycus alvarezii as PGP.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development of DOST (DOST-PCAARRD) also funded a project on RMC as growth promoter and inducer of resistance against major pests and diseases. It also elicits various kinds of biological and physiological activities such as seed germination, shoot elongation, root growth, flower production, suppression of heavy metal stress, and anti-viral and anti-microbiological activities.

Radiation-modified carrageenan and PGPs are just some of the many research and development undertakings supported by DOST and PCAARRD in response to its commitment to Outcome One.

Being the frontrunner of the eight major outcomes of DOST, Outcome One seeks to provide science–based know-how and tools that will enable the agriculture sector to achieve global competitiveness.

by Rolando S. Corpuz, Angelito T. Carpio, Rose Anne K. Mananghaya, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Service