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Melatonin and TiO2 NPs Application-Induced Changes in Growth, Photosynthesis, Antioxidant Enzymes Activities and Secondary Metabolites in Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) Under Drought Stress Conditions

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Drought stress is one of the major constraints on the growth and productivity of crop plants. Recently, new approaches have been employed in order to cope with the drought. Out of the approaches available, nanomaterials have the great interests in the relevant fields. In this regard, considering the effects of melatonin and nano-titanium dioxide nano particles (TiO2 NPs) against abiotic stresses, the current study was designed to compare the effects of a well-known and recently studied molecules, melatonin (0, 50, 100 µM) and TiO2 NPs (0, 10, 100 mg L−1) on an array of agronomic, physiological and biochemical traits of stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) under moderate and severe drought stress. The drought stress was submitted according to the field capacity of the soil, ranging from 90 to 60%. As expected, growth and photosynthetic pigments of the plants decreased with the severity of the stress but the relevant traits (growth and photosynthetic pigments) were improved with the applications of melatonin and TiO2 NPs under mid and severe stress. The improved traits of the plants and their tolerance might be consequences of induced antioxidant activities and high content of proline and diminished levels of MDA, as observed in the current work. Also, secondary metabolites of stevia were also increased by the treatments of melatonin and TiO2 NPs. Of the concentration used for treatments, generally, foliar application of melatonin (100 µM) and TiO2 NPs (10 mg L−1) was the best treatment for decreasing negative effect of drought stress and increasing secondary metabolites in stevia plant.

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This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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GG, BE and TJ designed the experimental setup. MS, SP and MHM performed greenhouse experiments, biochemical and essential oil studies. GG, MK and MS analyzed data and results, while GG, MK and TJ wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Gholamreza Gohari or Muhittin Kulak.

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The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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Handling Editor: Durgesh Kumar Tripathi.

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Sheikhalipour, M., Gohari, G., Esmaielpour, B. et al. Melatonin and TiO2 NPs Application-Induced Changes in Growth, Photosynthesis, Antioxidant Enzymes Activities and Secondary Metabolites in Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) Under Drought Stress Conditions. J Plant Growth Regul 42, 2023–2040 (2023).

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