Castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) responses to drought stress and foliar application of Zn-nano fertilizer and humic acid: grain yield, oil content, antioxidant activity, and photosynthetic pigments


  • Ali RAHBARI Department of Agriculture, Damghan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Damghan (IR)
  • Jafar MASOUD SINAKI Department of Agriculture, Production and tTchnology of Herbal Medicines Research Centre, Damghan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Damghan (IR)
  • Ali DAMAVANDI Department of Agriculture, Production and tTchnology of Herbal Medicines Research Centre, Damghan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Damghan (IR)
  • Shahram REZVAN Department of Agriculture, Production and tTchnology of Herbal Medicines Research Centre, Damghan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Damghan (IR)



BBCH scale, castor bean, chlorophyll, humic acid, oil content, Zn-nano fertilizer


DOI: 10.15835/nbha49412003

Castor bean is considered as an important non-edible oilseed crop and source of castor oil, which has many applications ranging from cosmetics to the biofuels industry. Humic acid (HA) results from organic matter decomposition and is beneficial to plant growth and development. In the present study, a two-year experiment was conducted in Damghan, Iran, to study the physiological responses of castor bean to foliar application of zinc nano-chelate (Zn-nano) and HA under drought stress. The drought stress was used as the main treatment in three levels: normal irrigation as control, irrigation up to 75 BBCH scale (Biologische Bundesantalt, Bundessortenamt und Chemische Industrie) (mild stress), and irrigation up to 65 BBCH (severe stress). Foliar application of HA in three levels (non-application, application of the recommended rate and two times more than the recommended rate), as well as Zn-nano fertilizer in two levels (application at 1.5 part per thousand (ppt) and non-application) as subplots. The drought stress, HA, and Zn-nano fertilizer could significantly affect the number of capsules, the number of seeds, 100-seed weight, seed yield, oil yield, protein percentage and yield, activities of catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and peroxidase (POD), and chlorophyll a (Chl a), chlorophyll b (Chl b), and total chlorophyll (total Chl) contents. In addition, severe drought stress resulted in reducing the number of capsules (33.9%), the number of seeds (32.7%), 100-grain weight (16.0%), as well as seed (43.0%), oil (59.3%), and protein (29.9%) yield. Based on the results, the highest yield components, oil and protein contents, and photosynthetic pigments were achieved in the foliar application of HA (recommended rate) and Zn-nano fertilizers under normal irrigation during the second year. Further, the foliar application of Zn-nano fertilizer led to a decrease in the activities of CAT, SOD, and POD enzymes. According to partial regression analysis, the recommended rate of HA application the changed the nature of relationships governing the characteristics, especially under drought stress conditions. Finally, the foliar application of HA (recommended rate) and Zn-nano fertilizers could create an excellent resistance to drought stress in castor under dry and semi-arid climate conditions by improving yield and yield components and physiological traits.


Metrics Loading ...


Aghhavani Shajari M, Rezvani Moghadam P, Ghorbani R, Koocheki A (2018). Increasing saffron (Crocus sativus L.) corm size through the mycorrhizal inoculation, humic acid application, and irrigation management. Journal of Plant Nutrition 41(8):1047-1064.

Ahmadi A, Emam Y, Pessarakli M (2010). Biochemical changes in maize seedlings exposed to drought stress conditions at different nitrogen levels. Journal of Plant Nutrition 33:541-556.

Anderson S, Schoenau J, Vandenberg A (2018). Effects of zinc fertilizer amendments on yield and grain zinc concentration under controlled environment conditions, Journal of Plant Nutrition 41(14):1842-1850.

Anjani K, Raoof MA, Prasad MSL, Duraimurugan P, Lucose C, Yadav P, Prasad RD, Jawahar Lal J, Sarada C (2018). Trait-specific accessions in global castor (Ricinus communis L.) germplasm core set for utilization in castor improvement. Industrial Crops & Products 112:766-774.

Anjum F, Yaseen M, Rasul E, Wahid A, Anjum S )2003(. Water stress in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). II. Effect on chemical composition and chlorophyll contents. Pakistan Journal of Agriculture Science 40:45-49.

Akintunde A (2012). Path analysis step by step using excel. Journal of Technical Science and Technologies 1(1):9-15.

Sabaghnia N, Dehghani H, Alizadeh B, Mohghaddam M (2010). Interrelationships between seed yield and 20 related traits of 49 canola (Brassica napus L.) genotypes in non-stressed and water-stressed environments. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research 8(2):356-370.

Aravind P, Prasad MNV (2004). Zinc protects chloroplasts and associated photochemical functions in cadmium-exposed Ceratophyllum demersum L., a freshwater macrophyte. Plant Science 166:1321-1327.

Attibayeba NE, N`Kounkou JS, Julien GCD, Mandoukou-Yembi F (2010). Description of different growth stages of Sesamum indicum L. using the extended BBCH scale. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 9:235-239.

Babaei K, Seyed Sharifi R, Pirzad A, Khalilzadeh R (2017). Effects of biofertilizer and nano Zn-Fe oxide on physiological traits, antioxidant enzymes activity and yield of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) under salinity stress, Journal of Plant Interactions 12(1):381-389.

Babita M, Maheswari M, Rao LM, Shanker AK, Rao DG (2010). Osmotic adjustment, drought tolerance and yield in castor (Ricinus communis L.) hybrids. Environmental and Experimental Botany 69:243-249.

Bagheri E, Masood Sinaki J, Baradaran Firoozabadi M, Abedini Esfhlani M (2013). Evaluation of salicylic acid foliar application and drought stress on the physiological traits of sesame (Sesamum indicum) cultivars. Iranian Journal of Plant Physiology 3(4):809-816.

Bakry BA, Elewa TA, El-Kramany MF, Wali AM (2013). Effect of humic and ascorbic acids foliar application on yield and yield components of two wheat cultivars grown under the newly reclaimed sandy soil. International Journal of Agronomy and Plant Production 4:1125-1133.

Beauchamp C, Fridovich I (1971). Superoxide Dismutase: Improved assays and an assay applicable to acrylamide gels. Analytical Biochemistry 44:276-287.

Bradford MM (1976). A rapid and sensitive method for quantitation of microgram quantities of protein utilizing the principle of protein-dye binding. Annual Review of Biochemistry 72:248-254.

Chance B, Maehly C (1995). Assay of catalase and peroxidases. Methods of Enzymology 11:764-775.

Dai Z, Edwards GE, Ku MSB (1992). Control of photosynthesis and stomatal conductance in Ricinus communis L. (castor bean) by leaf to air vapor pressure deficit. Plant Physiology 99:1426-1434.

Delfine S, Tognetti R, Desiderio E, Alvino A (2005). Effect of foliar application of N and humic acids on growth and yield of durum wheat. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 25:183-191.

Delgado PH, Aranguren M, Reig C, Galvan DF, Mesejo C, Fuentes AM, Sauco VG, Agustí M (2011). Phenological growth stages of mango (Mangifera indica L.) according to the BBCH scale. Scientia Horticulturae 130:536-540.

Eneji AE, Islam R, An P, Amalu UC (2013). Nitrate retention and physiological adjustment of maize to soil amendment with superabsorbent polymers. Journal of Cleaner Production 52:474-480.

Farooq M, Wahid A, Kobayashi N, Fujita D, Basra SMA (2009). Plant drought stress: effects, mechanisms, and management. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 29(1):185-212.

Gholami H, Saharkhiz MJ, Raouf-Fard F, Ghani A, Nadaf F (2018). Humic acid and vermicompost increased bioactive components, antioxidant activity and herb yield of Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.). Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology 14:286-292.

Gholinezhad E (2017). Effect of drought stress and Fe nano-fertilizer on seed yield, morphological traits, essential oil percentage and yield of dill (Anethum graveolens L.). Journal of Essential Oil Bearing Plants 20(4):1006-1017.

Gislum R, Nikneshan P, Shrestha S, Tadayyon A, Deleuran LC, Boelt B (2018). Characterization of castor (Ricinus communis L.) seed quality using Fourier transform near-infrared spectroscopy in combination with multivariate data analysis. Agriculture 8:59.

Gomes Neto V, Ribeiro PR, Del-Bem LE, Bernal DT, Cunha Lima ST, Ligterink W, Fernandez LG, de Castro RD (2018). Characterization of the superoxide dismutase gene family in seeds of two Ricinus communis L. genotypes submitted to germination under water restriction conditions, Environmental and Experimental Botany 155:453-463.

Hu Y, Schmidhalter U (2005). Drought and salinity: A comparison of their effects on the mineral nutrition of plants. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 168:541-549.

Jeong J, Connolly EL (2009). Iron uptake mechanisms in plants: functions of the FRO family of ferric reductases. Plant Science 176:709-714.

Karakurt Y, Unlu H, Unlu H, Padem H (2009). The influence of foliar and soil fertilization of humic acid on yield and quality of pepper. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section B - Soil and Plant Science 59:233-237.

Karimi S, Abbaspour H, Masoud Sinaki J, Makarian H (2012). Effects of water deficit and chitosan spraying on osmotic adjustment and soluble protein of cultivars castor bean (Ricinus communis L.). Journal of Stress Physiology & Biochemistry 8(3):160-169.

Khaled H, Fawy H (2011). Effect of different levels of humic acids on the nutrient content, plant growth, and soil properties under conditions of salinity. Soil and Water Research 6(1):21-29.

Leiboritz HE, Benqrson DA, Mouqle PD, Simpson KL (1987). Effects of Artemia lipid fraction on growth and survival of larval in land liver sides. In: Sorgeloss P, Bengtson DA, Deelier W, Japers E (Eds). Artemia Research and its Application. Universal press, Belgium, pp 763.

Lichtenthaler HK (1987). Chlorophylls and carotenoids. Pigments of photosynthetic membranes. Methods in Enzymology 148:350-382.

Liu C, Cooper RJ (2000). Humic substances influence creeping bent grass growth. Golf Course Management 1:49-53.

Liv SS, Dick LA, Marco B, Magno JD, Cândido GC, William C, Tan D, … Helge Z (2012). A review on the challenges for increased production of castor. Agronomy Journal 104(4):853-880.

Lotfi R, Pessarakli M, Gharavi-Kouchebagh P, Khoshvaghti H (2015). Physiological responses of Brassica napus to fulvic acid under water stress: Chlorophyll a fluorescence and antioxidant enzyme activity. The Crop Journal 3(5):434-439.

Machado LW, Rovere ELL (2017). The Traditional Technological Approach and Social Technologies in the Brazilian Semiarid Region. Sustainability 10(1):25.

Mutlu H. Meier MA (2010). Castor oil as a renewable resource for the chemical industry. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology 112(1):10-30.

Nardi S, Morari F, Berti A, Tosoni MGiardini L (2004). Soil organic matter properties after 40 years of different use of organic and mineral fertilisers. European Journal of Agronomy 21:357-367.

Noman A, Shafaqat A, Fomia N, Qasim A, Mujahid F, Muhammad R, Muhammad Kashif Irshad (2015). Foliar application of ascorbate enhances the physiological and biochemical attributes of maize (Zea mays L.) cultivars under drought stress. Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science 61(12):1659-1672.

Ojeda-Barrios DL, Perea-Portillo E, Hernández-Rodríguez OA, Martínez-Téllez J, Abadía J, Lombardini L (2014). Foliar fertilization with zinc in pecan trees. Hort Science 49:562-566.

Ostadi A, Javanmard A, Amani Machiani M, Morshedloo MR, Nouraein M, Rasouli F, Maggi F (2020). Effect of different fertilizer sources and harvesting time on the growth characteristics, nutrient uptakes, essential oil productivity and composition of Mentha piperita L. Industrial Crops and Products 148:112290.

Pansu M, Gautheyrou J (2007). Handbook of soil analysis: mineralogical, organic and inorganic methods, Springer Science & Business Media.

Popovic V, Vidić M, Jocković Đ, Ikanović J, Jakšić S, Cvijanović G (2012). Variability and correlations between yield components of soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.], Genetika 44(1):33-45.

Prado R, Rozane D, Simoes R, Romualdo L (2008). Response of rice seedlings to seed application of zinc. Magistra 20:87-94.

Qin J, Wang X, Hu F, Li H (2010). Growth and physiological performance responses to drought stress under non-flooded rice cultivation with straw mulching, Plant, Soil and Environment 56:51-59.

Rajiv P, Vanathi P, Thangamani A (2018). An investigation of phytotoxicity using Eichhornia mediated zinc oxide nanoparticles on Helianthus annuus, Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology 16:419-424.

Ramanjaneyulu AV, Vishnuvardhan-Reddy A, Madhavi A (2013). The impact of sowing date and irrigation regime on castor (Ricinus communis L.) seed yield, oil quality characteristics and fatty acid composition during post rainy season in South India. Industrial Crops and Products 44:25-31.

Ramírez F, Kallarackal J (2015). Responses of fruit trees to global climate change. Springer, Springer Briefs, New York.

Roman-Figueroa C, Cea M, Paneque M, Gonzalez ME (2020). Oil content and fatty acid composition in castor bean naturalized accessions under Mediterranean conditions in Chile. Agronomy 10(8):1145.

Rouphael Y, Cardarelli M, Schwarz D, Franken P, Colla G (2012). Effects of drought on nutrient uptake and assimilation in vegetable crops. In: Aroca R (Ed). Plant Responses to Drought Stress. Springer, Heidelberg New York Dordrecht London, pp 171-195.

Sabzevari S, Khazaie HR, Kafi M (2010). Study on the effects of humic acid on germination of four wheat cultivars (Triticum aestivum L.). Iranian Journal of Field Crops Research 8(3):473-80.

Sadeghi-Bakhtavari AR, Hazrati S (2021) Growth, yield, and fatty acids as affected by water-deficit and foliar application of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur in castor bean. Journal of Crop Improvement 35(4):453-468.

Sanjari-Mijani M, Siroosmehr A, Fakheri B (2015). The effects of drought stress and humic acid on some physiological characteristics of Roselle. Journal of Agricultural Crop Management 17(2):403-414.

Severino LS, Auld DL (2013). Seed yield and yield components of castor influenced by irrigation. Industrial Crops and Products 49:52-60.

Shi G, Zhu-Gu F, Liu Z, Le L (2014). Photosynthetic responses and acclimation of two castor bean cultivars to repeated drying-wetting cycles. Journal of Plant Interactions 9(1):783-790.

Slaton N, Norman R Ce WJ (2005). Effect of zinc source and application time on zinc uptake and grain yield of flood-irrigated rice. Agronomy Journal 97:272-278.

Staniak M, Jolanta B, Jerzy K (2017). Changes in yield and gas exchange parameters in Festulolium and alfalfa grown in pure sowing and in the mixture under drought stress, Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B-Soil & Plant Science 68(3):255-263.

Sujatha M, Reddy TP, Mahasi MJ (2008). Role of biotechnological interventions in the improvement of castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) and Jatropha curcas L. Biotechnology Advances 26:424-435.

Tadayyon A, Nikneshan P, Pessarakli M (2017). Effects of drought stress on concentration of macro and micronutrients in castor (Ricinus communis L.) plant, Journal of Plant Nutrition 41(3):304-310.

TanKH (2003). Humic matter in soil and the environment. Marcel Dekker, New York. Pp 408.

Terzi R, Saglam A, Kutlu N, Nar H, Kadioglu A. 2010. Impact of soil drought stress on the photochemical efficiency of photosystem II and antioxidant enzyme activities of Phaseolus vulgaris cultivars. Turkish Journal of Botany 34:1-10.

Valadabadi SA, Yosefi F, Shiranirad AH (2010). Effect of water holding and different nitrogen levels on some of agronomic characteristics of castor bean (Ricinus communis L.). Iranian Journal of Agronomy and Plant Breeding 6(1):99-110.

Wang WB, Kim YH, Lee HS, Kim KY, Deng XP, Kwak SS (2009). Analysis of antioxidant enzyme activity during germination of alfalfa under salt and drought stress. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 47:570-577.

Weisany W, Sohrabi Y, Heidari G, Siosemardeh A, Ghassemi- Golezani K (2012). Changes in antioxidant enzymes activity and plant performance by salinity stress and zinc application in soybean (Glycine max L.). Plant Omic Journal 5:60-67.

Yan W, Yangquanwei Z, Zhouping S (2015). Evaluation of physiological traits of summer maize under drought stress. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B-Soil & Plant Science 66(2):133-140.

Yuvaraj M, Subramanian KS (2014). Controlled-release fertilizer of zinc encapsulated by a manganese hollow core shell. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition 20:1-8.

Zhang M, Jin Z, Zhao J, Zhang G, Wu F (2015). Physiological and biochemical responses to drought stress in cultivated and Tibetan wild barley. Plant Growth Regulation 75:567-574.




How to Cite

RAHBARI, A., MASOUD SINAKI, J., DAMAVANDI, A., & REZVAN, S. (2021). Castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) responses to drought stress and foliar application of Zn-nano fertilizer and humic acid: grain yield, oil content, antioxidant activity, and photosynthetic pigments. Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca, 49(4), 12003.



Research Articles
DOI: 10.15835/nbha49412003