Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 561–567 | Cite as

Abscisic acid, gibberellins and brassinosteroids in Kelpak®, a commercial seaweed extract made from Ecklonia maxima

  • Wendy A. Stirk
  • Danuše Tarkowská
  • Veronika Turečová
  • Miroslav Strnad
  • J van Staden


The seaweed extract Kelpak® made from the kelp Ecklonia maxima is registered as a biostimulant for use in agriculture. It elicits many beneficial responses including improved root and shoot growth, higher yields and greater resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses. Previously, cytokinins, auxins and polyamines were identified in Kelpak®. The aim of the present study was to quantify other groups of plant growth regulators (PGRs)—abscisic acid (ABA), gibberellins (GAs) and brassinosteroids—that may be present in E. maxima and Kelpak®. Kelpak® samples harvested between 2008 and 2010 and stored for up to 26 months were analysed using ultra performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. ABA levels were below the limits of detection in E. maxima but were detected in low concentrations in Kelpak®, ranging from 0.31 to 20.70 pg mL−1 Kelpak®. Eighteen GAs were found in E. maxima and Kelpak® with concentrations from 187.54 to 565.96 pg mL−1 Kelpak®. The biologically active GAs (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6 and GA7) comprised less than 3 % in Kelpak®. Although GA13 (a final product in the metabolic pathway) was present in low concentrations in E. maxima, very high concentrations were present in Kelpak®. The brassinosteroids brassinolide (BL) and castasterone (CS) were identified in E. maxima and Kelpak®. Concentrations varied with harvest and storage time, ranging from 384.72 to 793.23 pg BL mL−1 Kelpak® and 62.84 to 567.51 pg CS mL−1 Kelpak®. It is likely that this cocktail of natural PGRs present in Kelpak® may act individually or in concert and thus contribute to the numerous favourable physiological responses elicited by Kelpak® application to plants.


Abscisic acid Agricultural biostimulant Brassinosteroids Gibberellins Plant growth regulators 



Abscisic acid








Multiple-reaction monitoring


Plant growth regulators


Ultra performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry



The University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) and Kelp Products (Pty) Ltd are thanked for financial assistance. This work was further supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic [LK21306], the Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research [ED0007/01/01] and the Czech Grant Agency [grant no. 206/09/1284]. The authors also give sincere thanks to M.Sc. Marie Vitásková for her excellent technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wendy A. Stirk
    • 1
  • Danuše Tarkowská
    • 2
  • Veronika Turečová
    • 2
  • Miroslav Strnad
    • 2
    • 3
  • J van Staden
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Life SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalPietermaritzburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Laboratory of Growth RegulatorsPalacký University and Institute of Experimental Botany AS CROlomoucCzech Republic
  3. 3.Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, Faculty of SciencePalacký UniversityOlomoucCzech Republic

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