Blessing Awogbamila, Guddi Brahmbhatt, Rosemarie Arroyo-Martinez, Paula Khoiniha, Jenna Brodnyan
Globally, drought is a major agricultural and economic problem, specifically due to its effects on crop yield. Effective and economical strategies to mitigate drought stress in agricultural plants must be developed as drought continues to escalate in both frequency and intensity. Substances known as biostimulants have been studied for their agricultural outputs, as they are capable of increasing nutrient uptake in plants, enhancing crop quality traits, and increasing tolerance of abiotic stress, such as drought. Currently, commercially-produced biostimulants are expensive. A cost-effective alternative to commercial biostimulants is bee honey, which is considered a natural biostimulant by-product of sustainable agriculture. Honey has been shown to be beneficial when sprayed directly onto the leaves (i.e., the foliar method) of crops that are experiencing abiotic stress, such as drought. However, the precise study of drought mitigation using diluted bee honey has not been studied using the dicot model plant Arabidopsis thaliana or by using the sub-irrigation method. In this study, we hypothesize that exogenous diluted bee honey will reduce the effects of drought stress on A. thaliana. It is inferred that, because of bee honey’s abundance of beneficial nutrients that help with plant growth in particular, that it will function as an efficient biostimulant. To test this hypothesis, plants exposed to drought and normal conditions were administered various concentrations of honey, phosphate solution, and water. Seed volume and biomass (i.e., dry mass), which are measures of plant yield, were evaluated and recorded. According to the data, diluted bee honey reduces crop lifespan while maintaining or increasing crop yield (i.e., biomass) when applied by the sub-irrigation method to plants under both normal and drought conditions. Additionally, diluted bee honey increases seed size in plants subjected to drought stress, but it does not have an effect on the seed volume of plants under both normal and drought conditions. Given that the diluted bee honey treatments produced the same biomass in less time than the control groups under drought stress, early results indicate that honey may prove to be sustainable, naturally available, and economically advantageous for agricultural use.