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The power of AMINO ACIDS: What are they and what benefits do they bring to agriculture?

4 de June de 2021

As every technician and producer knows, the application of amino acids leads to exceptional results in plants. But do we really know what amino acids are and what functions they perform in plants?

What essential functions do amino acids perform in plants?

Amino acids are essential constituents of life, not only because they are protein and peptide components but because they also carry out a number of fundamental functions in plant physiology:

  • They provide the energy to activate metabolic pathways.
  • They induce resistance to different types of stress: thermal, water, and abiotic.
  • They participate in the synthesis of proteins, hormones, and enzymatic reactions.
  • As the structural units of proteins, they intervene in growth regulation and plant development.

All these functions are accompanied by an energy cost that the plant must incur and which requires a series of elements such as nitrogen, sulphur, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen for their synthesis.

What is the structure of an amino acid and how are they classified?

The chemical structure of an amino acid is formed by an amino group (-NH2) and a carboxyl group (C-OOH) that are attached to a carbon chain (R). It is precisely this carbon chain that differentiates each of the amino acids and gives them different properties.

As every technician and producer knows, the application of amino acids leads to exceptional results in plants. But do we really know what amino acids are and what functions they perform in plants?

Figure 1: The chemical structure of amino acid. Source: Atlántica Agrícola

Amino acids can be classified according to their chemical configuration, and it is important to understand the amino acids of agricultural interest:

  1. Amino acids that form part of proteins due to their L-configuration and bind to each other via peptide bonds to form more complex nitrogen compounds such as peptides or enzymes.
  2. Amino acids that are not protein-forming have a D-configuration. Some 250 amino acids have been identified, including those that comprise proteins with the D-form, which, despite their metabolic and physiological functions, cannot bind and form peptides, enzymes, or other biologically-active proteins.  

The importance of choosing the right amino acid profile

If we take into account that amino acid synthesis comes at an energy cost for the plant, does it make sense to think that the exogenous application of amino acids in the different stages of growth and development, as well as in moments of stress, is the right decision?

Of course it is!

However, not all amino acid profiles are suitable. An amino acid profile with all the amino acids is not optimal as it does not allow greater weight to be given to the amino acids that are truly vital with respect to the desired objective.  

Based on the scientific knowledge generated over years, nowadays it is possible to know the main functions performed by each of the amino acids within the plant.

The following table provides a summary of the 20 essential amino acids and how they interact with each other in the different phenological stages and in relation to different types of stress.

Figure 2: The physiological functions of amino acids. Source: Atlántica Agrícola

Conclusions

To conclude, we can say that the application of one or more amino acids will depend on the desired objective during each phenological stage of the crop, while we can safely say that when it comes to alleviating abiotic stress, the best strategy focuses on applying a balanced amino acid profile with the greatest possible number of amino acids.

If you would like additional information on our biostimulants with amino acids, visit the following link: https://www.eurofertival.com/products/bioestimulants/?lang=en

If you would like additional information or support from our technical team, visit the following link: https://www.eurofertival.com/contact/?lang=en