Thiourea-Capped Nanoapatites Amplify Osmotic Stress Tolerance in Zea mays L. by Conserving Photosynthetic Pigments, Osmolytes Biosynthesis and Antioxidant Biosystems

Sana Faryal, Rehman Ullah, Muhammad Nauman Khan, Baber Ali, Aqsa Hafeez, Mariusz Jaremko, Kamal A. Qureshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Salinity is one of the most prevalent abiotic stresses which not only limits plant growth and yield, but also limits the quality of food products. This study was conducted on the surface functionalization of phosphorus-rich mineral apatite nanoparticles (ANPs), with thiourea as a source of nitrogen (TU–ANPs) and through a co-precipitation technique for inducing osmotic stress tolerance in Zea mays. The resulting thiourea-capped apatite nanostructure (TU–ANP) was characterized using complementary analytical techniques, such as EDX, SEM, XRD and IR spectroscopy. The pre-sowing of soaked seeds of Zea mays in 1.00 µg/mL, 5.00 µg/mL and 10 µg/mL of TU–ANPs yielded growth under 0 mM, 60 mM and 100 mM osmotic stress of NaCl. The results show that Ca and P salt acted as precursors for the synthesis of ANPs at an alkaline pH of 10–11. Thiourea as a source of nitrogen stabilized the ANPs’ suspension medium, leading to the synthesis of TU–ANPs. XRD diffraction analysis validated the crystalline nature of TU–ANPs with lattice dimensions of 29 nm, calculated from FWHM using the Sherrer equation. SEM revealed spherical morphology with polydispersion in size distribution. EDS confirmed the presence of Ca and P at a characteristic KeV, whereas IR spectroscopy showed certain stretches of binding functional groups associated with TU–ANPs. Seed priming with TU–ANPs standardized germination indices (T50, MGT, GI and GP) which were significantly declined by NaCl-based osmotic stress. Maximum values for biochemical parameters, such as sugar (39.8 mg/g at 10 µg/mL), protein (139.8 mg/g at 10 µg/mL) and proline (74.1 mg/g at 10 µg/mL) were recorded at different applied doses of TU–ANP. Antioxidant biosystems in the form of EC catalase (11.34 IU/g FW at 10 µg/mL), EC APX (0.95 IU/G FW at 10 µg/mL), EC SOD (1.42 IU/g FW at 5 µg/mL), EC POD (0.43 IU/g FW at 5 µg/mL) were significantly restored under osmotic stress. Moreover, photosynthetic pigments, such as chlorophyll A (2.33 mg/g at 5 µg/mL), chlorophyll B (1.99 mg/g at 5 µg/mL) and carotenoids (2.52 mg/g at 10 µg/mL), were significantly amplified under osmotic stress via the application of TU–ANPs. Hence, the application of TU–ANPs restores the growth performance of plants subjected to induced osmotic stress.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5744
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 6 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry


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