Ecotoxicology 2015 Nov 9;24(9):1996-2008. Epub 2015 Sep 9.
Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Ferrara, Via Luigi Borsari 46, 44121, Ferrara, Italy.
The use of highly polluting chemicals for plant and crop protection is one of the components of the negative environmental impact of agricultural activities. In the present paper, an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticide application has been studied, based on the so-called electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS). Experiments have been carried out, by applying ECAS having different contents of active ingredients, on tobacco plants at a laboratory scale and on apple trees at fruit garden scale. The results, accumulated during a couple of years, have shown that properly selected dilute solutions of chlorides, once activated by an electrochemical treatment, exhibit a very effective protecting action of plants, irrespective of their nature. Extension of the research has shown that the observed effect is the result of two distinct factors: the expected anti-microbial action of the electrochemically synthesized oxidants, and an unexpected priming of immune plant defenses, which is clearly due to the treatment with ECAS. Interestingly, the repetition of ECAS application triggers an even stronger activation of defense genes. No oxidative damages, due to the use of the activated solutions, could be detected.