Effects of Humic Substances and Mycorrhizal Fungi on Drought-Stressed Cactus: Focus on Growth, Physiology, and Biochemistry

Soufiane Lahbouki, Ana Luísa Fernando, Carolina Rodrigues, Raja Ben-Laouane, Mohamed Ait-El-Mokhtar, Abdelkader Outzourhit, Abdelilah Meddich

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Utilizing water resources rationally has become critical due to the expected increase in water scarcity. Cacti are capable of surviving with minimal water requirements and in poor soils. Despite being highly drought-resistant, cacti still faces limitations in realizing its full potential under drought-stress conditions. To this end, we investigated the interactive effect of humic substances (Hs) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) on cactus plants under drought stress. In the study, a cactus pot experiment had three irrigation levels (W1: no irrigation, W2: 15% of field capacity, and W3: 30% of field capacity) and two biostimulants (Hs soil amendment and AMF inoculation), applied alone or combined. The findings show that the W1 and W2 regimes affected cactus performance. However, Hs and/or AMF significantly improved growth. Our results revealed that drought increased the generation of reactive oxygen species. However, Hs and/or AMF application improved nutrient uptake and increased anthocyanin content and free amino acids. Furthermore, the soil’s organic matter, phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium contents were improved by the application of these biostimulants. Altogether, using Hs alone or in combination with AMF can be an effective and sustainable approach to enhance the tolerance of cactus plants to drought conditions, while also improving the soil quality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4156
Number of pages19
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2023


  • amino acids
  • arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • ascorbic acid
  • cactus
  • drought stress
  • humic substances
  • mineral nutrition


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