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Title:
COMPOSITIONS AND METHODS FOR ENHANCING PLANT GROWTH
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/070757
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Described herein are seed treatment compositions comprising one or more glutathiones for enhancing plant growth and methods thereof. Further described are seeds coated with the seed treatment compositions described herein.

Inventors:
HABIB, Ahsan (3332 Circle Brook Dr. SW, Apt-JRoanoke, Virginia, 24018, US)
KANG, Yaowei (225 Windsor Dr, Christiansburg, Virginia, 24073, US)
SEMONES, Shawn (612 Crestwood Dr, Salem, Virginia, 24153, US)
BLANKENSHIP, Laura (3637 Kentland Dr, Roanoke, Virginia, 24018, US)
Application Number:
US2013/067293
Publication Date:
May 08, 2014
Filing Date:
October 29, 2013
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
NOVOZYMES BIOAG A/S (Krogshoejvej 36, Bagsvaerd, Bagsvaerd, DK)
HABIB, Ahsan (3332 Circle Brook Dr. SW, Apt-JRoanoke, Virginia, 24018, US)
International Classes:
A01C1/06; A01N37/00; C07K5/037
Foreign References:
US20100016166A12010-01-21
US20100093537A12010-04-15
US20050187107A12005-08-25
US7479267B22009-01-20
US20110065583A12011-03-17
US20020081731A12002-06-27
Other References:
See also references of EP 2914084A4
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SOVA, IV, Thomas, C. et al. (Novozymes North America, Inc.60 E. 42nd St.,Suite 70, New York New York, 10165, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A seed treatment composition comprising:

a) a carrier; and

b) an effective amount of one or more glutathiones or salt thereof for enhancing plant growth when the seed treatment composition is in contact with a seed and/or coated onto a seed.

2. The seed treatment composition of claim 1 , further comprising one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients.

3. The seed treatment composition of claim 2, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients are one or more plant signal molecules selected from the group consisting of LCOs, COs, chitinous compounds, flavonoids, jasmonic acid, methyl jasmonate, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, karrikins, and combinations thereof.

4. The seed treatment composition of claim 2, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients comprises one or more beneficial microorganisms. 5. The seed treatment composition of claim 4, wherein the one or more beneficial microorganisms comprise one or more nitrogen fixing microorganisms, one or more phosphate solubilizing microorganisms, one or more mycorrhizal fungi, or combinations thereof.

6. The seed treatment composition of claim 1 , wherein the composition further comprises one or more micronutrients. 7. The seed treatment composition of claim 6, wherein the one or more micronutrients comprises phosphorous, copper, iron, zinc, or a combination thereof.

8. A method for enhancing the growth of a plant or plant part comprising contacting a seed with an effective amount of one or more glutathiones or salts thereof for enhancing plant growth.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the method further comprises subjecting the seed to one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the step of subjecting the seed to one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients occurs before, during, after, or simultaneously with the step of contacting a plant or plant part with one or more glutathiones.

1 1. The method of claim 9, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients are one or more plant signal molecules selected from the group consisting of LCOs, COs, chitinous compounds, flavonoids, jasmonic acid, methyl jasmonate, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, karrikins, and combinations thereof.

12. The method of claim 9, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients comprises one or more beneficial microorganisms.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the one or more beneficial microorganisms comprise one or more nitrogen fixing microorganisms, one or more phosphate solubilizing microorganisms, one or more mycorrhizal fungi, or combinations thereof.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients further comprises one or more micronutrients.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the one or more micronutrients comprise phosphorous, copper, iron, zinc, or a combination thereof.

16. The method of claim 8, wherein, the contacting step comprises contacting a seed with a composition comprising the one or more glutathiones.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the composition comprises the seed treatment composition of any of claims 1-14.

18. The method of any of claims 8-17, wherein the contacting comprises treating or coating a seed.

19. A seed coated with a seed treatment composition of any of claims 1 -7.

Description:
COMPOSITIONS AND METHODS FOR ENHANCING PLANT GROWTH

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Compositions comprising one or more glutathiones and methods of using the compositions to enhance plant growth.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTIONS

Antioxidants are important molecules which inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. Antioxidants are studied intensively for their ability to reduce oxidative stress - especially in humans. Plants, however, also use antioxidants for mitigating oxidative damage. One such antioxidant is glutathione. Glutathione is a tripeptide with a gamma peptide linkage between the amine group of cysteine (which is attached by normal peptide linkage to a glycine) and the carboxyl group of the glutamate side-chain. It is an antioxidant, preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals and peroxides. Pompella, A; Visvikis, A; Paolicchi, A; De Tata, V; Casini, AF (2003). "The changing faces of glutathione, a cellular protagonist." Biochemical Pharmacology 66 (8): 1499-503.

In addition to playing a role in reducing oxidative stress in plants, it has been found that glutathione contributes to regulating other plant functions as well. For example, it has been found that glutathione has plant growth regulating activity, that glutathione is involved in pathogen resistance and programmed cell death, and that glutathione is implicated in other highly regulated plant processes. Ogawa, K (2005). "Glutathione-Associated Regulation of Plant Growth and Stress Responses." Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 7(7,8): 973-981.

Of particular interest has been to better understand the effects glutathione has on various aspects of plant growth.

For example, the exogenous application of glutathione was found to promote growth of embryogenic tissue. Belmonte, M; Stasolla, C; Katahira, R; Loukanina, N; Yeung, E; Thorpe, T (2005). "Glutathione-induced growth of embryogenic tissue of white spruce correlates with changes in pyrimidine nucleotide metabolism." Plant Science 168: 803-812.

The influence of foliar application with different concentrations of glutathione on vegetative growth parameters was also evaluated. Mahgoub, M; Abd El Aziz, N; Youssef, A (2006). "Influence of Foliar Spray with Paclobutrazol or Glutathione on growth, Flowering and Chemical Composition of Calendula officinalis L. Plant." J. of App. Sciences Res. 2(1 1 ): 879- 883.

U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No.: 2010/0016166 discloses a plant growth regulator capable of increasing harvest index by use of glutathione and techniques for using the same. There is, however, still a need for systems for improving growth conditions for plants which decreases application rates while increasing efficacy. In-furrow and foliar applications of actives to crops can be wasteful and expensive - both in costs and resources. The application of actives (e.g., glutathione, signal molecules, etc.) through in-furrow or foliar methods requires application at rates necessary to treat an entire field and these application rates are also often crop dependent. Moreover, foliar applications often require multiple treatments to an entire field of crops. These expenditures in time and resources are of particular concern in the agricultural industry. One such solution to these challenges is seed treatment. Seed treatments reduce costs because application rates are substantially reduced and there is no need for re-treatment.

While seed treatments are the current commercial trend, developing an efficacious seed treatment remains challenging. Efficacy often depends on specific application concentrations, physical properties of the active (e.g., hydrophobicity, etc.), the seed to be treated, and storage conditions. Surprisingly, the inventors have found that glutathiones, when applied as a seed treatment, enhance plant growth.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTIONS

The inventors have found that glutathiones, when applied as a seed treatment, enhance plant growth. It was further discovered that glutathiones provide a synergistic effect for plant growth when they are combined with certain other plant signal molecules capable of promoting plant growth.

In one embodiment, the compositions described herein comprise a carrier and one or more glutathiones. The glutathiones include isomers, salts, or solvates thereof, as described herein.

In another embodiment, the composition comprises one or more glutathiones, a carrier, and one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients, such as one or more biologically active ingredients, one or more micronutrients, one or more biostimulants, one or more preservatives, one or more polymers, one or more wetting agents, one or more surfactants, one or more herbicides, one or more fungicides, one or more insecticides, or combinations thereof.

In one embodiment, the composition described herein comprises one or more glutathiones, a carrier, and one or more biologically active ingredients. Biologically active ingredients may include one or more plant signal molecules. In a specific embodiment, the one or more biologically active ingredients may include one or more lipo-chitooligosaccharides (LCOs), one or more chitooligosaccharides (COs), one or more chitinous compounds, one or more flavonoids and derivatives thereof, one or more non-flavonoid nod gene inducers and derivatives thereof, one or more karrikins and derivatives thereof, or any signal molecule combination thereof.

Further described herein is a method for enhancing the growth of a plant or plant part comprising contacting a seed with an effective amount of one or more glutathiones for enhancing plant growth. In one embodiment, the contacting comprises treating or coating a seed The glutathiones include isomers, salts, or solvates thereof, as described herein. The method may further comprise subjecting the plant or plant part to one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients, applied simultaneously or sequentially with the one or more glutathiones. The one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients can include one or more biologically active ingredients, one or more micronutrients, one or more biostimulants, or combinations thereof. In one embodiment, the method further comprises subjecting the plant or plant part to one or more biologically active ingredients. Biologically active ingredients may one or more plant signal molecules. In a specific embodiment, the one or more biologically active ingredients may include one or more LCOs, one or more chitinous compounds, one or more COs, one or more flavonoids and derivatives thereof, one or more non-flavonoid nod gene inducers and derivatives thereof, one or more karrikins and derivatives thereof, or any signal molecule combination thereof.

Finally, a seed coated with one or more glutathiones, including isomers, salts, or solvates thereof, is described herein. Embodiments include seeds coated with any of the compositions described herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The disclosed embodiments relate to compositions and methods for enhancing plant growth.

Definitions:

As used herein, the singular forms "a", "an" and "the" are intended to include the plural forms as well, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

As used herein, the term "agriculturally beneficial ingredient(s)" is intended to mean any agent or combination of agents capable of causing or providing a beneficial and/or useful effect in agriculture.

As used herein, "biologically active ingredient(s)" is intended to mean biologically active ingredients (e.g., plant signal molecules, other microorganisms, etc.) other than the one or more glutathiones described herein. As used herein, the term "glutathione(s)" is intended to include all isomer, solvate, hydrate, polymorphic, crystalline form, non-crystalline form, and salt variations of the following glutathione structure:

As used herein, the term "isomer(s)" is intended to include all stereoisomers of the compounds and/or molecules referred to herein (e.g., glutathiones, LCOs, COs, chitinous compounds, flavonoids, jasmonic acid or derivatives thereof, linoleic acid or derivatives thereof, linolenic acid or derivatives thereof, kerrikins, etc.), including enantiomers, diastereomers, as well as all conformers, roatmers, and tautomers, unless otherwise indicated. The compounds and/or molecules disclosed herein include all enantiomers in either substantially pure levorotatory or dextrorotatory form, or in a racemic mixture, or in any ratio of enantiomers. Where embodiments disclose a (D)-enantiomer, that embodiment also includes the (L)- enantiomer; where embodiments disclose a (L)-enantiomer, that embodiment also includes the (D)-enantiomer. Where embodiments disclose a (+)-enantiomer, that embodiment also includes the (-)-enantiomer; where embodiments disclose a (-)-enantiomer, that embodiment also includes the (+)-enantiomer. Where embodiments disclose a (S)-enantiomer, that embodiment also includes the (R)-enantiomer; where embodiments disclose a (R)-enantiomer, that embodiment also includes the (S)-enantiomer. Embodiments are intended to include any diastereomers of the compounds and/or molecules referred to herein in diastereomerically pure form and in the form of mixtures in all ratios. Unless stereochemistry is explicitly indicated in a chemical structure or chemical name, the chemical structure or chemical name is intended to embrace all possible stereoisomers, conformers, rotamers, and tautomers of coumpounds and/or molecules depicted.

As used herein, the terms "effective amount", "effective concentration", or "effective dosage" is intended to mean the amount, concentration, or dosage of the one or more glutathiones sufficient to cause enhanced plant growth. The actual effective dosage in absolute value depends on factors including, but not limited to, the size (e.g., the area, the total acreage, etc.) of the land for application with the one or more glutathiones, synergistic or antagonistic interactions between the other active or inert ingredients which may increase or reduce the growth enhancing effects of the one or more glutathiones, and the stability of the one or more glutathiones in compositions and/or as seed treatments. The "effective amount", "effective concentration", or "effective dosage" of the one or more glutathiones may be determined, e.g., by a routine dose response experiment.

As used herein, the term "carrier" is intended to refer to an "agronomically acceptable carrier." An "agronomically acceptable carrier" is intended to refer to any material which can be used to deliver the actives (e.g., glutathiones described herein, agriculturally beneficial ingredient(s), biologically active ingredient(s), etc.) to a plant or plant part (e.g., a seed).

As used herein, the term "seed-compatible carrier" is intended to refer to any material which can be added to a seed without causing/having an adverse effect on the seed, the plant that grows from the seed, seed germination, or the like.

As used herein, the term "foliar-compatible carrier" is intended to refer to any material which can be added to a plant or plant part without causing/having an adverse effect on the plant, plant part, plant growth, plant health, or the like.

As used herein, the term "micronutrient(s)" is intended to refer to nutrients which are needed for plant growth, plant health, and/or plant development.

As used herein, the term "biostimulant(s)" is intended to refer to any agent or combination of agents capable of enhancing metabolic or physiological processes within plants and soils.

As used herein, the term "herbicide(s)" is intended to refer to any agent or combination of agents capable of killing weeds and/or inhibiting the growth of weeds (the inhibition being reversible under certain conditions).

As used herein, the term "fungicide(s)" is intended to refer to any agent or combination of agents capable of killing fungi and/or inhibiting fungal growth.

As used herein, the term "insecticide(s)" is intended to refer to any agent or combination of agents capable of killing one or more insects and/or inhibiting the growth of one or more insects.

As used herein, term "enhanced plant growth" is intended to refer to increased plant yield (e.g., increased biomass, increased fruit number, or a combination thereof as measured by bushels per acre), increased root number, increased root mass, increased root volume, increased leaf area, increased plant stand, increased plant vigor, or combinations thereof.

As used herein, the terms "plant(s)" and "plant part(s)" are intended to refer to all plants and plant populations such as desired and undesired wild plants or crop plants (including naturally occurring crop plants). Crop plants can be plants, which can be obtained by conventional plant breeding and optimization methods or by biotechnological and genetic engineering methods or by combinations of these methods, including the transgenic plants and including the plant cultivars protectable or not protectable by plant breeders' rights. Plant parts are to be understood as meaning all parts and organs of plants above and below the ground, such as shoot, leaf, flower and root, examples which may be mentioned being leaves, needles, stalks, stems, flowers, fruit bodies, fruits, seeds, roots, tubers and rhizomes. The plant parts also include harvested material and vegetative and generative propagation material (e.g., cuttings, tubers, rhizomes, off-shoots and seeds, etc.).

As used herein, the term "inoculum" is intended to mean any form of microbial cells, or spores, which is capable of propagating on or in the soil when the conditions of temperature, moisture, etc., are favorable for microbial growth.

As used herein, the term "nitrogen fixing organism(s)" is intended to refer to any organism capable of converting atmospheric nitrogen (N 2 ) into ammonia (NH 3 ).

As used herein, the term "phosphate solubilizing organism" is intended to refer to any organism capable of converting insoluble phosphate into a soluble phosphate form.

As used herein, the terms "spore" has its normal meaning which is well known and understood by those of skill in the art. As used herein, the term spore refers to a microorganism in its dormant, protected state.

As used herein, the term "source" of a particular element is intended to mean a compound of that element which, at least in the soil conditions under consideration, does not make the element fully available for plant uptake.

COMPOSITIONS

The compositions disclosed comprise a carrier and one or more glutathiones described herein. In certain embodiments, the composition may be in the form of a liquid, a gel, a slurry, a solid, or a powder (wettable powder or dry powder). In another embodiment, the composition may be in the form of a seed coating. Compositions in liquid, slurry, or powder (e.g., wettable powder) form may be suitable for coating seeds. When used to coat seeds, the composition may be applied to the seeds and allowed to dry. In embodiments wherein the composition is a powder (e.g., a wettable powder), a liquid, such as water, may need to be added to the powder before application to a seed.

Glutathiones:

As disclosed throughout, the compositions described herein comprise one or more glutathiones. The one or more glutathiones may be a natural glutathione (i.e., not synthetically produced), a synthetic glutathione (e.g., a chemically synthesized glutathione) or a combination thereof. The one or more glutathiones may also be in any form (e.g., oxidized, reduced, or a combination of oxidized and reduced species).

In one embodiment, the one or more glutathiones have the molecular formula CioH 17 N 3 0 6 S and a molar mass of about 307.32 g mol "1 . In another embodiment, the one or more glutathiones may include lutathiones having the structure (I):

(I)

and isomers, salts, and solvates thereof.

In another embodiment, the one or more glutathiones may include glutathiones having the structure (l-A):

(l-A)

and salts and solvates thereof.

In another embodiment, the one or more glutathiones may include glutathiones having the structure (l-B):

(l-B)

and salts and solvates thereof.

In another embodiment, the one or more glutathiones may include glutathiones having the structure (l-C):

(l-C)

and salts and solvates thereof.

In another embodiment, the one or more glutathiones may include glutathiones having the structure (l-D):

(l-D)

and salts and solvates thereof.

In one embodiment, the one or more glutathiones used in the compositions described herein may be at least two of the above glutathiones (i.e., at least two of l-A, l-B, l-C- and l-D), at least three of the above glutathiones, at least four of the above glutathiones, up to and including all of the above glutathiones, including salts and solvates thereof.

Carriers:

The carriers described herein will allow the one or more glutathione(s) to remain efficacious

(e.g., capable of increasing plant growth). Non-limiting examples of carriers described herein include liquids, gels, slurries, or solids (including wettable powders or dry powders). The selection of the carrier material will depend on the intended application. In an embodiment, the carrier is a seed-compatible carrier.

In one embodiment, the carrier is a liquid carrier. Non-limiting examples of liquids useful as carriers for the compositions disclosed herein include water, an aqueous solution, or a nonaqueous solution. In one embodiment, the carrier is water. In another embodiment the carrier is an aqueous solution. In another embodiment, the carrier is a non-aqueous solution. If a liquid carrier is used, the liquid (e.g., water) carrier may further include growth media to culture one or more microbial strains used in the compositions described. Non-limiting examples of suitable growth media for microbial strains include YEM media, mannitol yeast extract, glycerol yeast extract, Czapek-Dox medium, potato dextrose broth, or any media known to those skilled in the art to be compatible with, and/or provide growth nutrients to microbial strain which may be included to the compositions described herein.

Glutathione is readily water soluble, and in a particular embodiment, the carrier is water. In a more particular embodiment, the one or more glutathiones are added to the water carrier at a concentration of 100.0 - 500.0 mg/L. In still another embodiment, the one or more glutathiones are added to the water carrier at a concentration of 200.0 mg/L. In still yet another embodiment, the one or more glutathiones are added to the water carrier at a concentration of 100.0 mg/L.

Agriculturally Beneficial Ingredients:

The compositions disclosed herein may comprise one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients. Non-limiting examples of agriculturally beneficial ingredients include one or more biologically active ingredients, micronutrients, biostimulants, preservatives, polymers, wetting agents, surfactants, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, or combinations thereof.

Biologically Active Ingredient(s):

The compositions described herein may optionally include one or more biologically active ingredients as described herein, other than the one or more glutathiones described herein. Non-limiting examples of biologically active ingredients include plant signal molecules (e.g., lipo-chitooligosaccharides (LCO), chitooligosaccharides (CO), chitinous compounds, flavonoids, jasmonic acid or derivatives thereof, linoleic acid or derivatives thereof, linolenic acid or derivatives thereof, karrikins, etc.) and beneficial microorganisms (e.g., Rhizobium spp., Bradyrhizobium spp., Sinorhizobium spp., Azorhizobium spp., Glomus spp., Gigaspora spp., Hymenoscyphous spp., Oidiodendron spp., Laccaria spp., Pisolithus spp., Rhizopogon spp., Scleroderma spp., Rhizoctonia spp., Acinetobacter spp., Arthrobacter spp,, Arthrobotrys spp., Aspergillus spp., Azospirillum spp, Bacillus spp, Burkholderia spp., Candida spp., Chryseomonas spp., Enterobacter spp., Eupenicillium spp., Exiguobacterium spp., Klebsiella spp., Kluyvera spp., Microbacterium spp., Mucor spp., Paecilomyces spp., Paenibacillus spp., Penicillium spp., Pseudomonas spp., Serratia spp., Stenotrophomonas spp., Streptomyces spp., Streptosporangium spp., Swaminathania spp., Thiobacillus spp., Torulospora spp., Vibrio spp., Xanthobacter spp., Xanthomonas spp., etc.).

Plant Signal Molecule(s):

In an embodiment, the compositions described herein include one or more plant signal molecules. In one embodiment, the one or more plant signal molecules are one or more LCOs. In another embodiment, the one or more plant signal molecules are one or more COs. In still another embodiment, the one or more plant signal molecules are one or more chitinous compounds. In yet another embodiment, the one or more plant signal molecules are one or more flavonoids or derivatives thereof. In still yet another embodiment, the one or more plant signal molecules are one or more non-flavonoid nod gene inducers (e.g., jasmonic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and derivatives thereof). In still yet another embodiment, the one or more plant signal molecules are one or more karrikins or derivatives thereof. In still another embodiment, the one or more plant signal molecules are one or more LCOs, one or more COs, one or more chitinous compounds, one or more flavonoids and derivatives thereof, one or more non-flavonoid nod gene inducers and derivatives thereof, one or more karrikins and derivatives thereof, or any signal molecule combination thereof.

LCOs:

Lipo-chitooligosaccharide compounds (LCOs), also known in the art as symbiotic Nod signals or Nod factors, consist of an oligosaccharide backbone of 3-l,4-linked /V-acetyl-D-glucosamine ("GlcNAc") residues with an N-linked fatty acyl chain condensed at the non-reducing end. LCO's differ in the number of GlcNAc residues in the backbone, in the length and degree of saturation of the fatty acyl chain, and in the substitutions of reducing and non-reducing sugar residues. LCOs are intended to include all LCOs as well as isomers, salts, and solvates thereof. An example of an LCO is presented below as formula I:

in which:

G is a hexosamine which can be substituted, for example, by an acetyl group on the nitrogen, a sulfate group, an acetyl group and/or an ether group on an oxygen,

Ri, R 2 , R 3 , R 5 , R 6 and R 7 , which may be identical or different, represent H, CH 3 CO-, C x H y CO— where x is an integer between 0 and 17, and y is an integer between 1 and 35, or any other acyl group such as for example a carbamyl, R 4 represents a mono-, di-, tri- and tetraunsaturated aliphatic chain containing at least 12 carbon atoms, and n is an integer between 1 and 4.

LCOs may be obtained (isolated and/or purified) from bacteria such as Rhizobia, e.g., Rhizobium spp., Bradyrhizobium spp. , Sinorhizobium spp. and Azorhizobium spp. LCO structure is characteristic for each such bacterial species, and each strain may produce multiple LCO's with different structures. For example, specific LCOs from S. meliloti have also been described in U.S. Patent 5,549,718 as having the formula II:

in which R represents H or CH 3 CO- and n is equal to 2 or 3.

Even more specific LCOs include NodRM, NodRM-1 , NodRM-3. When acetylated (the R=CH 3 CO-), they become AcNodRM-1 , and AcNodRM-3, respectively (U.S. Patent 5,545,718).

LCOs from Bradyrhizobium japonicum are described in U.S. Patents 5,175,149 and 5,321 ,01 1. Broadly, they are pentasaccharide phytohormones comprising methylfucose. A number of these B. y ' apon/ ' ct/m-derived LCOs are described: BjNod-V (C 18: i); BjNod-V (A c , C 18: i), BjNod-V (C 16: i); and BjNod-V (A c , C 16: o), with "V" indicating the presence of five N-acetylglucosamines; "Ac" an acetylation; the number following the "C" indicating the number of carbons in the fatty acid side chain; and the number following the ":" the number of double bonds.

LCOs used in compositions of the invention may be obtained (i.e., isolated and/or purified) from bacterial strains that produce LCO's, such as strains of Azorhizobium, Bradyrhizobium (including B. japonicum), Mesorhizobium, Rhizobium (including R. leguminosarum), Sinorhizobium (including S. meliloti), and bacterial strains genetically engineered to produce LCO's.

Also encompassed by the present invention are compositions using LCOs obtained (i.e., isolated and/or purified) from a mycorrhizal fungus, such as fungi of the group Glomerocycota, e.g., Glomus intraradicus. The structures of representative LCOs obtained from these fungi are described in WO 2010/049751 and WO 2010/049751 (the LCOs described therein also referred to as "Myc factors").

Further encompassed by compositions of the present invention is use of synthetic LCO compounds, such as those described in WO 2005/063784, and recombinant LCO's produced through genetic engineering. The basic, naturally occurring LCO structure may contain modifications or substitutions found in naturally occurring LCO's, such as those described in Spaink, Crit. Rev. Plant Sci. 54:257-288 (2000) and D'Haeze, et al., Glycobiology 72:79R-105R (2002). Precursor oligosaccharide molecules (COs, which as described below, are also useful as plant signal molecules in the present invention) for the construction of LCOs may also be synthesized by genetically engineered organisms, e.g., as in Samain, et al., Carb. Res. 302:35-42 (1997); Samain, et al., J. Biotechnol. 72:33-47 (1999).

LCO's may be utilized in various forms of purity and may be used alone or in the form of a culture of LCO-producing bacteria or fungi. Methods to provide substantially pure LCO's include simply removing the microbial cells from a mixture of LCOs and the microbe, or continuing to isolate and purify the LCO molecules through LCO solvent phase separation followed by HPLC chromatography as described, for example, in U.S. Patent 5,549,718. Purification can be enhanced by repeated HPLC, and the purified LCO molecules can be freeze-dried for long-term storage.

COs:

Chitooligosaccharides (COs) are known in the art as β-1-4 linked N-actylglucosamine structures identified as chitin oligomers, also as N-acetylchitooligosaccharides. CO's have unique and different side chain decorations which make them different from chitin molecules [(C 8 H 13 N0 5 )n, CAS No. 1398-61 -4], and chitosan molecules [(C 5 HnN0 4 )n, CAS No. 9012-76-4]. Representative literature describing the structure and production of COs is as follows: Van der Hoist, et al., Current Opinion in Structural Biology, 77:608-616 (2001 ); Robina, et al., Tetrahedron 58:521-530 (2002); Hanel, et al., Planta 232:787-806 (2010); Rouge, et al. Chapter 27, "The Molecular Immunology of Complex Carbohydrates" in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, Springer Science; Wan, et al., Plant Cell 27:1053-69 (2009); PCT/F100/00803 (9/21/2000); and Demont-Caulet, et al., Plant Physiol. 120(1) 83-92 (1999). The COs may be synthetic or recombinant. Methods for preparation of recombinant COs are known in the art. See, e.g., Samain, et al. (supra.); Cottaz, et al., Meth. Eng. 7(4^:31 1-7 (2005) and Samain, et al., J. Biotechnol. 72:33-47 (1999). COs are intended to include isomers, salts, and solvates thereof.

Chitinous Compounds:

Chitins and chitosans, which are major components of the cell walls of fungi and the exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans, are also composed of GlcNAc residues. Chitinous compounds include chitin, (lUPAC: N-[5-[[3-acetylamino-4,5-dihydroxy-6-(hydroxymethyl)oxan- 2yl]methoxymethyl]-2-[[5-acetylamino-4,6-dihydroxy-2-(hydrox ymethyl)oxan-3- yl]methoxymethyl]-4-hydroxy-6-(hydroxymethyl)oxan-3-ys]ethan amide), chitosan, (lUPAC: 5- amino-6-[5-amino-6-[5-amino-4,6-dihydroxy-2(hydroxymethyl)ox an-3-yl]oxy-4-hydroxy-2- (hydroxymethyl)oxan-3-yl]oxy-2(hydroxymethyl)oxane-3,4-diol) , and isomers, salts, and solvates thereof.

These compounds may be obtained commercially, e.g., from Sigma-Aldrich, or prepared from insects, crustacean shells, or fungal cell walls. Methods for the preparation of chitin and chitosan are known in the art, and have been described, for example, in U.S. Patent 4,536,207 (preparation from crustacean shells), Pochanavanich, et al. , Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 35:17-21 (2002) (preparation from fungal cell walls), and U.S. Patent 5,965,545 (preparation from crab shells and hydrolysis of commercial chitosan). Deacetylated chitins and chitosans may be obtained that range from less than 35% to greater than 90% deacetylation, and cover a broad spectrum of molecular weights, e.g., low molecular weight chitosan oligomers of less than 15kD and chitin oligomers of 0.5 to 2kD; "practical grade" chitosan with a molecular weight of about 15kD; and high molecular weight chitosan of up to 70kD. Chitin and chitosan compositions formulated for seed treatment are also commercially available. Commercial products include, for example, ELEXA® (Plant Defense Boosters, Inc.) and BEYOND™ (Agrihouse, Inc.).

Flavonoids:

Flavonoids are phenolic compounds having the general structure of two aromatic rings connected by a three-carbon bridge. Flavonoids are produced by plants and have many functions, e.g. , as beneficial signaling molecules, and as protection against insects, animals, fungi and bacteria. Classes of flavonoids include chalcones, anthocyanidins, coumarins, flavones, flavanols, flavonols, flavanones, and isoflavones. See, Jain, et al., J. Plant Biochem. & Biotechnol. 77:1 -10 (2002); Shaw, et al., Environmental Microbiol. 77:1867-80 (2006).

Representative flavonoids that may be useful in compositions of the present invention include luteolin, apigenin, tangeritin, quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, fisetin, isorhamnetin, pachypodol, rhamnazin, hesperetin, naringenin, formononetin, eriodictyol, homoeriodictyol, taxifolin, dihydroquercetin, dihydrokaempferol, genistein, daidzein, glycitein, catechin, gallocatechin, catechin 3-gallate, gallocatechin 3-gallate, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin 3-gallate, epigallocatechin 3-gallate, cyaniding, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, peonidin, petunidin, or derivatives thereof. Flavonoid compounds are commercially available, e.g. , from Natland International Corp., Research Triangle Park, NC; MP Biomedicals, Irvine, CA; LC Laboratories, Woburn MA. Flavonoid compounds may be isolated from plants or seeds, e.g. , as described in U.S. Patents 5,702,752; 5,990,291 ; and 6,146,668. Flavonoid compounds may also be produced by genetically engineered organisms, such as yeast, as described in Ralston, et al. , Plant Physiology 737:1375-88 (2005). Flavonoid compounds are intended to include all flavonoid compounds as well as isomers, salts, and solvates thereof.

Non-Flavonoid Nod-Gene Inducer(s):

Jasmonic acid (JA, [1 R-[1 a,23(Z)]]-3-oxo-2-(pentenyl)cyclopentaneacetic acid) and its derivatives, linoleic acid ((Z,Z)-9,12-Octadecadienoic acid) and its derivatives, and linolenic acid ((Z,Z,Z)-9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid) and its derivatives, may also be used in the compositions described herein. Non-flavonoid nod-gene inducers are intended to include not only the non-flavonoid nod-gene inducers described herein, but isomers, salts, and solvates thereof.

Jasmonic acid and its methyl ester, methyl jasmonate (MeJA), collectively known as jasmonates, are octadecanoid-based compounds that occur naturally in plants. Jasmonic acid is produced by the roots of wheat seedlings, and by fungal microorganisms such as Botryodiplodia theobromae and Gibbrella fujikuroi, yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), and pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli. Linoleic acid and linolenic acid are produced in the course of the biosynthesis of jasmonic acid. Jasmonates, linoleic acid and linoleic acid (and their derivatives) are reported to be inducers of nod gene expression or LCO production by rhizobacteria. See, e.g. , Mabood, Fazli, Jasmonates induce the expression of nod genes in Bradyrhizobium japonicum, May 17, 2001 ; and Mabood, Fazli, "Linoleic and linolenic acid induce the expression of nod genes in Bradyrhizobium japonicum," USDA 3, May 17, 2001.

Useful derivatives of linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and jasmonic acid that may be useful in compositions of the present invention include esters, amides, glycosides and salts. Representative esters are compounds in which the carboxyl group of linoleic acid, linolenic acid, or jasmonic acid has been replaced with a -COR group, where R is an—OR 1 group, in which R 1 is: an alkyl group, such as a C C 8 unbranched or branched alkyl group, e.g., a methyl, ethyl or propyl group; an alkenyl group, such as a C 2 -C 8 unbranched or branched alkenyl group; an alkynyl group, such as a C 2 -C 8 unbranched or branched alkynyl group; an aryl group having, for example, 6 to 10 carbon atoms; or a heteroaryl group having, for example, 4 to 9 carbon atoms, wherein the heteroatoms in the heteroaryl group can be, for example, N, O, P, or S. Representative amides are compounds in which the carboxyl group of linoleic acid, linolenic acid, or jasmonic acid has been replaced with a -COR group, where R is an NR 2 R 3 group, in which R 2 and R 3 are independently: hydrogen; an alkyl group, such as a C Cs unbranched or branched alkyl group, e.g., a methyl, ethyl or propyl group; an alkenyl group, such as a C 2 -C 8 unbranched or branched alkenyl group; an alkynyl group, such as a C 2 -C 8 unbranched or branched alkynyl group; an aryl group having, for example, 6 to 10 carbon atoms; or a heteroaryl group having, for example, 4 to 9 carbon atoms, wherein the heteroatoms in the heteroaryl group can be, for example, N, O, P, or S. Esters may be prepared by known methods, such as acid-catalyzed nucleophilic addition, wherein the carboxylic acid is reacted with an alcohol in the presence of a catalytic amount of a mineral acid. Amides may also be prepared by known methods, such as by reacting the carboxylic acid with the appropriate amine in the presence of a coupling agent such as dicyclohexyl carbodiimide (DCC), under neutral conditions. Suitable salts of linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and jasmonic acid include e.g. , base addition salts. The bases that may be used as reagents to prepare metabolically acceptable base salts of these compounds include those derived from cations such as alkali metal cations (e.g., potassium and sodium) and alkaline earth metal cations (e.g., calcium and magnesium). These salts may be readily prepared by mixing together a solution of linoleic acid, linolenic acid, or jasmonic acid with a solution of the base. The salt may be precipitated from solution and be collected by filtration or may be recovered by other means such as by evaporation of the solvent. Karrikin(s):

Karrikins are vinylogous 4H-pyrones e.g. , 2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-ones including derivatives and analogues thereof. It is intended that the karrikins include isomers, salts, and solvates thereof. Examples of thes nted by the following structure:

wherein; Z is O, S or NR 5 ; R-i , R 2 , R3, and R 4 are each independently H, alkyl, alkenyl, alkynyl, phenyl, benzyl, hydroxy, hydroxyalkyl, alkoxy, phenyloxy, benzyloxy, CN, COR 6 , COOR=, halogen, NR 6 R 7 , or N0 2 ; and R 5 , R 6 , and R 7 are each independently H, alkyl or alkenyl, or a biologically acceptable salt thereof. Examples of biologically acceptable salts of these compounds may include acid addition salts formed with biologically acceptable acids, examples of which include hydrochloride, hydrobromide, sulphate or bisulphate, phosphate or hydrogen phosphate, acetate, benzoate, succinate, fumarate, maleate, lactate, citrate, tartrate, gluconate; methanesulphonate, benzenesulphonate and p-toluenesulphonic acid. Additional biologically acceptable metal salts may include alkali metal salts, with bases, examples of which include the sodium and potassium salts. Examples of compounds embraced by the structure and which may be suitable for use in the present invention include the following: 3-methyl-2H-furo[2,3- c]pyran-2-one (where R^CHs, R 2 , R 3 , R 4 =H), 2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one (where R^ R 2 , R 3 , R4=H), 7-methyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one (where R-,, R 2 , R 4 =H, R 3 =CH 3 ), 5-methyl-2H- furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one (where R-,, R 2 , R 3 =H, R 4 =CH 3 ), 3,7-dimethyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one (where R-,, R 3 =CH 3 , R 2 , R 4 =H), 3,5-dimethyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one (where R-,, R 4 =CH 3 , R 2 , R 3 =H), 3,5,7-trimethyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one (where R-,, R 3 , R 4 =CH 3 , R 2 =H), 5- methoxymethyl-3-methyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one (where R 2 , R 3 =H, R 4 =CH 2 OCH 3 ), 4-bromo-3,7-dimethyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one (where Ri, R 3 =CH 3 , R 2 =Br, R 4 =H), 3- methylfuro[2,3-c]pyridin-2(3H)-one (where Z=NH, R-^CHs, R 2 , R 3 , R 4 =H), 3,6-dimethylfuro[2,3- c]pyridin-2(6H)-one (where Z=N-CH 3 , R 2 , R 3 , R 4 =H). See, U.S. Patent 7,576,213. These molecules are also known as karrikins. See, Halford, "Smoke Signals," in Chem. Eng. News (April 12, 2010), at pages 37-38 (reporting that karrikins or butenolides which are contained in smoke act as growth stimulants and spur seed germination after a forest fire, and can invigorate seeds such as corn, tomatoes, lettuce and onions that had been stored). These molecules are the subject of U.S. Patent 7,576,213.

Beneficial Microorqanism(s):

In an embodiment, the compositions described herein may comprise one or more beneficial microorganisms. The one or more beneficial microorganisms may be in a spore form, a vegetative form, or a combination thereof. The one or more beneficial microorganisms may include any number of microorganisms having one or more beneficial properties (e.g., produce one or more of the plant signal molecules described herein, enhance nutrient and water uptake, promote and/or enhance nitrogen fixation, enhance growth, enhance seed germination, enhance seedling emergence, break the dormancy or quiescence of a plant, etc.).

In one embodiment, the beneficial microorganism(s) comprise one or more bacteria. In another embodiment the bacteria are diazotrophs (i.e., bacteria which are symbiotic nitrogen- fixing bacteria). In still another embodiment, the bacteria are bacteria from the genera Rhizobium spp. (e.g., R. cellulosilyticum, R. daejeonense, R. etli, R. galegae, R. gallicum, R. giardinii, R. hainanense, R. huautlense, R. indigoferae, R. leguminosarum, R. loessense, R. lupini, R. lusitanum, R. meliloti, R. mongolense, R. miluonense, R. sullae, R. tropici, R. undicola, and/or R. yanglingense), Bradyrhizobium spp. (e.g., B. bete, B. canariense, B. elkanii, B. iriomotense, B. japonicum, B. jicamae, B. liaoningense, B. pachyrhizi, and/or B. yuanmingense), Azorhizobium spp. (e.g., A. caulinodans and/or A. doebereinerae), Sinorhizobium spp. (e.g., S. abri, S. adhaerens, S. americanum, S. aborts, S. fredii, S. indiaense, S. kostiense, S. kummerowiae, S. medicae, S. meliloti, S. mexicanus, S. morelense, S. saheli, S. terangae, and/or S. xinjiangense), Mesorhizobium spp., (M. albiziae, M. amorphae, M. chacoense, M. ciceri, M. huakuii, M. loti, M. mediterraneum, M. pluifarium, M. septentrionale, M. temperatum, and/or M. tianshanense), and combinations thereof. In a particular embodiment, the beneficial microorganism is selected from the group consisting of B. japonicum, R leguminosarum, R meliloti, S. meliloti, and combinations thereof. In another embodiment, the beneficial microorganism is B. japonicum. In another embodiment, the beneficial microorganism is R leguminosarum. In another embodiment, the beneficial microorganism is R meliloti. In another embodiment, the beneficial microorganism is S. meliloti.

In another embodiment, the one or more beneficial microorganisms comprise one or more phosphate solubilizing microorganisms. Phosphate solubilizing microorganisms include fungal and bacterial strains. In an embodiment, the phosphate solubilizing microorganism includes species from a genus selected from the group consisting of Acinetobacter spp. (e.g., Acinetobacter calcoaceticus, etc.), Arthrobacter spp, Arthrobotrys spp. (e.g., Arthrobotrys oligospora, etc.), Aspergillus spp. {e.g., Aspergillus niger, etc.), Azospirillum spp. {e.g., Azospirillum halopraeferans, etc.), Bacillus spp. {e.g., Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Bacillus atrophaeus, Bacillus circulans, Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus subtilis, etc.), Burkholderia spp. {e.g., Burkholderia cepacia, Burkholderia vietnamiensis,etc), Candida spp. {e.g., Candida krissii, etc.), Chryseomonas spp. {e.g., Chryseomonas luteola, etc.), Enterobacter spp. {e.g., Enterobacter aerogenes, Enterobacter asburiae, Enterobacter spp., Enterobacter taylorae, etc.), Eupenicillium spp. {e.g., Eupenicillium parvum, etc.), Exiguobacterium spp., Klebsiella spp., Kluyvera spp. {e.g., Kluyvera cryocrescens, etc.), Microbacterium spp., Mucor spp. {e.g., Mucor ramosissimus, etc.), Paecilomyces spp. {e.g., Paecilomyces hepialid, Paecilomyces marquandii, etc.), Paenibacillus spp. {e.g., Paenibacillus macerans, Paenibacillus mucilaginosus, etc.), Penicillium spp. {e.g., Penicillium bilaiae (formerly known as Penicillium bilaii), Penicillium albidum, Penicillium aurantiogriseum, Penicillium chrysogenum, Penicillium citreonigrum, Penicillium citrinum, Penicillium digitatum, Penicillium frequentas, Penicillium fuscum, Penicillium gaestrivorus, Penicillium glabrum, Penicillium griseofulvum, Penicillium implicatum, Penicillium janthinellum, Penicillium lilacinum, Penicillium minioluteum, Penicillium montanense, Penicillium nigricans, Penicillium oxalicum, Penicillium pinetorum, Penicillium pinophilum, Penicillium purpurogenum, Penicillium radicans, Penicillium radicum, Penicillium raistrickii, Penicillium rugulosum, Penicillium simplicissimum, Penicillium solitum, Penicillium variabile, Penicillium velutinum, Penicillium viridicatum, Penicillium glaucum, Penicillium fussiporus, and Penicillium expansum, etc.), Pseudomonas spp. {e.g., Pseudomonas corrugate, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas lutea, Pseudomonas poae, Pseudomonas putida, Pseudomonas stutzeri, Pseudomonas trivialis, etc.), Serratia spp. {e.g., Serratia marcescens, etc.), Stenotrophomonas spp. {e.g., Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, etc.), Streptomyces spp., Streptosporangium spp., Swaminathania spp. {e.g., Swaminathania salitolerans, etc.), Thiobacillus spp. {e.g., Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, etc.), Torulospora spp. {e.g., Torulospora globosa, etc.), Vibrio spp. {e.g., Vibrio proteolytics, etc.), Xanthobacter spp. {e.g., Xanthobacter agilis, etc.), Xanthomonas spp. {e.g., Xanthomonas campestris, etc.), and combinations thereof.

In a particular embodiment, the one or more phosphate solubilizing microorganisms is a strain of the fungus Penicillium. In another embodiment, the one or more Penicillium species is P. bilaiae, P. gaestrivorus, or combinations thereof.

In another embodiment the beneficial microorganism is one or more mycorrhiza. In particular, the one or more mycorrhiza is an endomycorrhiza (also called vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizas, VAMs, arbuscular mycorrhizas, or AMs), an ectomycorrhiza, or a combination thereof.

In one embodiment, the one or more mycorrhiza is an endomycorrhiza of the phylum Glomeromycota and genera Glomus and Gigaspora. In still a further embodiment, the endomycorrhiza is a strain of Glomus aggregatum, Glomus brasilianum, Glomus clarum, Glomus deserticola, Glomus etunicatum, Glomus fasciculatum, Glomus intraradices, Glomus monosporum, or Glomus mosseae, Gigaspora margarita, or a combination thereof.

In another embodiment, the one or more mycorrhiza is an ectomycorrhiza of the phylum Basidiomycota, Ascomycota, and Zygomycota. In still yet another embodiment, the ectomycorrhiza is a strain of Laccaria bicolor, Laccaria laccata, Pisolithus tinctorius, Rhizopogon amylopogon, Rhizopogon fulvigleba, Rhizopogon luteolus, Rhizopogon villosuli, Scleroderma cepa, Scleroderma citrinum, or a combination thereof.

In still another embodiment, the one or more mycorrhiza is an ecroid mycorrhiza, an arbutoid mycorrhiza, or a monotropoid mycorrhiza. Arbuscular and ectomycorrhizas form ericoid mycorrhiza with many plants belonging to the order Ericales, while some Ericales form arbutoid and monotropoid mycorrhizas. All orchids are mycoheterotrophic at some stage during their lifecycle and form orchid mycorrhizas with a range of basidiomycete fungi. In one embodiment, the mycorrhiza may be an ericoid mycorrhiza, preferably of the phylum Ascomycota, such as Hymenoscyphous ericae or Oidiodendron sp. In another embodiment, the mycorrhiza also may be an arbutoid mycorrhiza, preferably of the phylum Basidiomycota. In yet another embodiment, the mycorrhiza may be a monotripoid mycorrhiza, preferably of the phylum Basidiomycota. In still yet another embodiment, the mycorrhiza may be an orchid mycorrhiza, preferably of the genus Rhizoctonia.

Micronutrient(s):

In still another embodiment, the compositions described herein may comprise one or more beneficial micronutrients. Non-limiting examples of micronutrients for use in the compositions described herein include vitamins, (e.g., vitamin A, vitamin B complex (i.e., vitamin B-i , vitamin B 2 , vitamin B 3 , vitamin B 5 , vitamin B 6 , vitamin B 7 , vitamin B 8 , vitamin B 9 , vitamin B 12 , choline) vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, carotenoids (ocarotene, β-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, etc.), macrominerals (e.g., phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, etc.), trace minerals (e.g., boron, cobalt, chloride, chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, zinc, etc.), organic acids (e.g., acetic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, malic aclid, taurine, etc.), and combinations thereof. In a particular embodiment, the compositions may comprise phosphorous, boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, zinc or combinations thereof.

In certain embodiments, where the compositions described herein may comprise phosphorous, it is envisioned that any suitable source of phosphorous may be provided. In one embodiment, the phosphorus may be derived from a source. In another embodiment, suitable sources of phosphorous include phosphorous sources capable of solubilization by one or more microorganisms (e.g., Penicillium bilaiae, etc.).

In one embodiment, the phosphorus may be derived from a rock phosphate source. In another embodiment the phosphorous may be derived from fertilizers comprising one or more phosphorous sources. Commercially available manufactured phosphate fertilizers are of many types. Some common ones are those containing rock phosphate, monoammonium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, super phosphate, triple super phosphate, and/or ammonium polyphosphate. All of these fertilizers are produced by chemical processing of insoluble natural rock phosphates in large scale fertilizer-manufacturing facilities and the product is expensive. By means of the present invention it is possible to reduce the amount of these fertilizers applied to the soil while still maintaining the same amount of phosphorus uptake from the soil.

In still another embodiment, the phosphorous may be derived from an organic phosphorous source. In a further particular embodiment, the source of phosphorus may include an organic fertilizer. An organic fertilizer refers to a soil amendment derived from natural sources that guarantees, at least, the minimum percentages of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash. Non-limiting examples of organic fertilizers include plant and animal by-products, rock powders, seaweed, inoculants, and conditioners. These are often available at garden centers and through horticultural supply companies. In particular the organic source of phosphorus is from bone meal, meat meal, animal manure, compost, sewage sludge, or guano, or combinations thereof.

In still another embodiment, the phosphorous may be derived from a combination of phosphorous sources including, but not limited to, rock phosphate, fertilizers comprising one or more phosphorous sources (e.g., monoammonium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, super phosphate, triple super phosphate, ammonium polyphosphate, etc.) one or more organic phosphorous sources, and combinations thereof.

Biostimulant(s):

In one embodiment, the compositions described herein may comprise one or more beneficial biostimulants. Biostimulants may enhance metabolic or physiological processes such as respiration, photosynthesis, nucleic acid uptake, ion uptake, nutrient delivery, or a combination thereof. Non-limiting examples of biostimulants include seaweed extracts (e.g., ascophyllum nodosum), humic acids (e.g., potassium humate), fulvic acids, myo-inositol, glycine, and combinations thereof. In another embodiment, the compositions comprise seaweed extracts, humic acids, fulvic acids, myo-inositol, glycine, and combinations thereof.

Polvmer(s):

In one embodiment, the compositions described herein may further comprise one or more polymers. Non-limiting uses of polymers in the agricultural industry include agrochemical delivery, heavy metal removal, water retention and/or water delivery, and combinations thereof. Pouci, et a/., Am. J. Agri. & Biol. Sci., 3(7):299-314 (2008). In one embodiment, the one or more polymers is a natural polymer (e.g., agar, starch, alginate, pectin, cellulose, etc.), a synthetic polymer, a biodegradable polymer (e.g., polycaprolactone, polylactide, poly (vinyl alcohol), etc.), or a combination thereof.

For a non-limiting list of polymers useful for the compositions described herein, see Pouci, et al., Am. J. Agri. & Biol. Sci., 3(7):299-314 (2008). In one embodiment, the compositions described herein comprise cellulose, cellulose derivatives, methylcellulose, methylcellulose derivatives, starch, agar, alginate, pectin, polyvinylpyrrolidone, and combinations thereof.

Surfactant(s):

In one embodiment, the compositions described herein may further comprise one or more surfactants. Surfactants may be useful as a component in a seed coating and/or processes for coating seeds. Surfactants suitable for the compositions described herein may be non-ionic surfactants (e.g., semi-polar and/or anionic and/or cationic and/or zwitterionic). The surfactants can wet and emulsify soil(s) and/or dirt(s). It is envisioned that the surfactants used in described composition have low toxicity for any microorganisms contained within the formulation. It is further envisioned that the surfactants used in the described composition have a low phytotoxicity (i.e., the degree of toxicity a substance or combination of substances has on a plant). A single surfactant or a blend of several surfactants can be used.

Anionic surfactants

Anionic surfactants or mixtures of anionic and nonionic surfactants may also be used in the compositions. Anionic surfactants are surfactants having a hydrophilic moiety in an anionic or negatively charged state in aqueous solution. The compositions described herein may comprise one or more anionic surfactants. The anionic surfactant(s) may be either water soluble anionic surfactants, water insoluble anionic surfactants, or a combination of water soluble anionic surfactants and water insoluble anionic surfactants. Non-limiting examples of anionic surfactants include sulfonic acids, sulfuric acid esters, carboxylic acids, and salts thereof. Non- limiting examples of water soluble anionic surfactants include alkyi sulfates, alkyi ether sulfates, alkyi amido ether sulfates, alkyi aryl polyether sulfates, alkyi aryl sulfates, alkyi aryl sulfonates, monoglyceride sulfates, alkyi sulfonates, alkyi amide sulfonates, alkyi aryl sulfonates, benzene sulfonates, toluene sulfonates, xylene sulfonates, cumene sulfonates, alkyi benzene sulfonates, alkyi diphenyloxide sulfonate, alpha-olefin sulfonates, alkyi naphthalene sulfonates, paraffin sulfonates, lignin sulfonates, alkyi sulfosuccinates, ethoxylated sulfosuccinates, alkyi ether sulfosuccinates, alkylamide sulfosuccinates, alkyi sulfosuccinamate, alkyi sulfoacetates, alkyi phosphates, phosphate ester, alkyi ether phosphates, acyl sarconsinates, acyl isethionates, N- acyl taurates, N-acyl-N-alkyltaurates, alkyi carboxylates, or a combination thereof.

Nonionic surfactants

Nonionic surfactants are surfactants having no electrical charge when dissolved or dispersed in an aqueous medium. In at least one embodiment of the composition described herein, one or more nonionic surfactants are used as they provide the desired wetting and emulsification actions and do not significantly inhibit spore stability and activity. The nonionic surfactant(s) may be either water soluble nonionic surfactants, water insoluble nonionic surfactants, or a combination of water soluble nonionic surfactants and water insoluble nonionic surfactants.

Water insoluble nonionic surfactants

Non-limiting examples of water insoluble nonionic surfactants include alkyi and aryl: glycerol ethers, glycol ethers, ethanolamides, sulfoanylamides, alcohols, amides, alcohol ethoxylates, glycerol esters, glycol esters, ethoxylates of glycerol ester and glycol esters, sugar- based alkyi polyglycosides, polyoxyethylenated fatty acids, alkanolamine condensates, alkanolamides, tertiary acetylenic glycols, polyoxyethylenated mercaptans, carboxylic acid esters, polyoxyethylenated polyoxyproylene glycols, sorbitan fatty esters, or combinations thereof. Also included are EO/PO block copolymers (EO is ethylene oxide, PO is propylene oxide), EO polymers and copolymers, polyamines, and polyvinylpynolidones.

Water soluble nonionic surfactants

Non-limiting examples of water soluble nonionic surfactants include sorbitan fatty acid alcohol ethoxylates and sorbitan fatty acid ester ethoxylates.

Combination of nonionic surfactants

In one embodiment, the compositions described herein comprise at least one or more nonionic surfactants. In one embodiment, the compositions comprise at least one water insoluble nonionic surfactant and at least one water soluble nonionic surfactant. In still another embodiment, the compositions comprise a combination of nonionic surfactants having hydrocarbon chains of substantially the same length.

Other Surfactants

In another embodiment, the compositions described herein may also comprise organosilicone surfactants, silicone-based antifoams used as surfactants in silicone-based and mineral-oil based antifoams. In yet another embodiment, the compositions described herein may also comprise alkali metal salts of fatty acids (e.g., water soluble alkali metal salts of fatty acids and/or water insoluble alkali metal salts of fatty acids).

Herbicide(s):

In one embodiment, the compositions described herein may further comprise one or more herbicides. In a particular embodiment, the herbicide may be a pre-emergent herbicide, a post- emergent herbicide, or a combination thereof.

Suitable herbicides include chemical herbicides, natural herbicides (e.g., bioherbicides, organic herbicides, etc.), or combinations thereof. Non-limiting examples of suitable herbicides include bentazon, acifluorfen, chlorimuron, lactofen, clomazone, fluazifop, glufosinate, glyphosate, sethoxydim, imazethapyr, imazamox, fomesafe, flumiclorac, imazaquin, and clethodim. Commercial products containing each of these compounds are readily available. Herbicide concentration in the composition will generally correspond to the labeled use rate for a particular herbicide.

Funqicide(s):

In one embodiment, the compositions described herein may further comprise one or more fungicides. Fungicides useful to the compositions described herein will suitably exhibit activity against a broad range of pathogens, including but not limited to Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, Pythium, Phomopsis or Selerotinia and Phakopsora and combinations thereof.

Non-limiting examples of commercial fungicides which may be suitable for the compositions disclosed herein include PROTEGE, RIVAL or ALLEGIANCE FL or LS (Gustafson, Piano, TX), WARDEN RTA (Agrilance, St. Paul, MN), APRON XL, APRON MAXX RTA or RFC, MAXIM 4FS or XL (Syngenta, Wilmington, DE), CAPTAN (Arvesta, Guelph, Ontario) and PROTREAT (Nitragin Argentina, Buenos Ares, Argentina). Active ingredients in these and other commercial fungicides include, but are not limited to, fludioxonil, mefenoxam, azoxystrobin and metalaxyl. Commercial fungicides are most suitably used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions at the recommended concentrations. Insecticide(s):

In one embodiment, the compositions described herein may further comprise one or more insecticides. Insecticides useful to the compositions described herein will suitably exhibit activity against a broad range of insects including, but not limited to, wireworms, cutworms, grubs, corn rootworm, seed corn maggots, flea beetles, chinch bugs, aphids, leaf beetles, stink bugs, and combinations thereof.

Non-limiting examples of commercial insecticides which may be suitable for the compositions disclosed herein include CRUISER (Syngenta, Wilmington, DE), GAUCHO and PONCHO (Gustafson, Piano, TX). Active ingredients in these and other commercial insecticides include thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and imidacloprid. Commercial insecticides are most suitably used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions at the recommended concentrations.

METHODS

In another aspect, methods of using glutathiones to increase and/or enhance plant growth are disclosed. In a particular embodiment, the method comprises enhancing the growth of a plant or plant part comprising contacting a plant or plant part with one or more of the glutathiones described herein, as well as, isomers, salts, or solvates thereof. In one embodiment, the contacting step comprises contacting a plant or plant part with an effective amount of one or more of the glutathiones described herein.

In a particular embodiment, the contacting step comprises contacting a plant seed with one or more of the glutathiones described herein, as well as, isomers, salts, or solvates thereof. In still an even more preferred embodiment, the contacting step comprises treating a seed (e.g. , a seed treatment) with one or more of the glutathiones described herein, as well as, isomers, salts, or solvates thereof.

In a particular embodiment, the contacting step comprises contacting a plant or plant part with one or more of the compositions described herein. In a particular embodiment, the contacting step comprises contacting a plant seed with one or more of the compositions described herein. In another embodiment, the contacting step comprises treating a seed (e.g. , a seed treatment) with one or more of the compositions described herein. In a particular embodiment, the contacting step comprises contacting a plant or plant part with one or more of the glutathiones described herein at a concentration between 100.0 mg/L - 500.0 mg/L. In a more particular embodiment, the contacting step comprises contacting a plant seed with one or more of the glutathiones described herein at a concentration between 100.0 mg/L - 500.0 mg/L. In still an even more particular embodiment, the contacting step comprises treating a seed with one or more of the glutathiones described herein at a concentration between 100.0 mg/L - 500.0 mg/L.

The contacting step can be performed by any method known in the art (including both foliar and non-foliar applications). Non-limiting examples of contacting the plant or plant part include spraying a plant or plant part, drenching a plant or plant part, dripping on a plant or plant part, dusting a plant or plant part, and/or coating or treating a seed (e.g., seed treatments). In one embodiment, the contacting step is repeated (e.g., more than once, as in the contacting step is repeated twice, three times, four times, five times, six times, seven times, eight times, nine times, ten times, etc.).

In another embodiment, the method further comprises subjecting the plant or plant part to one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients described herein. In a particular embodiment, the method further comprises subjecting a seed to one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients described herein. The plant or plant parts can be subjected to the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients as part of a composition described herein or independently from the one or more glutathiones described herein. In one embodiment, the plant or plant parts are subjected to the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients as part of a composition described herein. In another embodiment, the plant or plant parts are subjected to one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients independently from the one or more glutathiones described herein. In one embodiment, the step of step of subjecting the plant or plant part to one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients occurs before, during, after, or simultaneously with the step of contacting a plant or plant part with one or more of glutathiones described herein.

The treating step can occur at any time during the growth of the plant or plant part. In one embodiment, the treating step occurs before the plant or plant part begins to grow (e.g., at the seed stage). In another embodiment, the treating step occurs after the plant or plant part has started to grow. In another, the treating step occurs as the plant or plant part is growing. In a particular embodiment, the treating step occurs before the seed germinates (e.g., the seed is treated before it germinates). In yet another embodiment, the treating step occurs before the seed is planted (e.g., the seed is treated prior to planting).

In another embodiment, the method further comprises the step of planting a plant or plant part. The planting step can occur before, after or during the treating step. In one embodiment, the planting step occurs before the treating step. In another embodiment, the planting step occurs during the treating step (e.g., the planting step occurs simultaneously with the treating step, the planting step occurs substantially simultaneous with the treating step, etc.). In still another embodiment, the planting step occurs after the treating step.

The methods of the present invention are applicable to both and non-leguminous plants or plant parts. In a particular embodiment the plants or plant parts are selected from the group consisting of alfalfa, rice, wheat, barley, rye, oat, cotton, canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, potato, sweet potato, bean, pea, chickpeas, lentil, chicory, lettuce, endive, cabbage, brussel sprout, beet, parsnip, turnip, cauliflower, broccoli, turnip, radish, spinach, onion, garlic, eggplant, pepper, celery, carrot, squash, pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber, apple, pear, melon, citrus, strawberry, grape, raspberry, pineapple, soybean, tobacco, tomato, sorghum, and sugarcane.

SEED COATINGS

In another aspect, seeds are coated with one or more compositions described herein. In one embodiment, seeds may be treated with composition(s) described herein in several ways but preferably via spraying or dripping. Spray and drip treatment may be conducted by formulating compositions described herein and spraying or dripping the composition(s) onto a seed(s) via a continuous treating system (which is calibrated to apply treatment at a predefined rate in proportion to the continuous flow of seed), such as a drum-type of treater. Batch systems, in which a predetermined batch size of seed and composition(s) as described herein are delivered into a mixer, may also be employed. Systems and apparati for performing these processes are commercially available from numerous suppliers, e.g. , Bayer CropScience (Gustafson).

In another embodiment, the treatment entails coating seeds. One such process involves coating the inside wall of a round container with the composition(s) described herein, adding seeds, then rotating the container to cause the seeds to contact the wall and the composition(s), a process known in the art as "container coating". Seeds can be coated by combinations of coating methods. Soaking typically entails using liquid forms of the compositions described. For example, seeds can be soaked for about 1 minute to about 24 hours (e.g., for at least 1 min, 5 min, 10 min, 20 min, 40 min, 80 min, 3 hr, 6 hr, 12 hr, 24 hr).

The invention is further defined by the following numbered paragraphs:

1. A seed treatment composition comprising:

a) a carrier;

b) an effective amount of one or more glutathiones or salt thereof for enhancing plant growth when the seed treatment composition is in contact with a seed and/or coated onto a seed. 2. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 1 , further comprising one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients.

3. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 2, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients are selected from the group consisting of one or more biologically active ingredients, micronutrients, biostimulants, and combinations thereof.

4. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 3, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients is one or more biologically active ingredients.

5. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 4, wherein the one or more biologically active ingredients are selected from the group consisting of one or more plant signal molecules, one or more beneficial microorganisms, and combinations thereof. 6. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 2, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients are one or more plant signal molecules selected from the group consisting of LCOs, COs, chitinous compounds, flavonoids, jasmonic acid, methyl jasmonate, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, karrikins, and combinations thereof. 7. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 2, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients comprises one or more COs.

8. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 2, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients comprises one or more LCOs.

9. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 2, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients comprises one or more flavonoids.

10. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 2, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients comprises one or more beneficial microorganisms.

1 1. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 10, wherein the one or more beneficial microorganisms comprise one or more nitrogen fixing microorganisms, one or more phosphate solubilizing microorganisms, one or more mycorrhizal fungi, or combinations thereof. 12. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 1 , wherein the carrier is a liquid medium. 13. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 1 , wherein the composition further comprises one or more micronutrients.

14. The seed treatment composition of paragraph 13, wherein the one or more micronutrients comprise phosphorous, copper, iron, zinc, or a combination thereof.

15. A method for enhancing the growth of a plant or plant part comprising contacting a seed with an effective amount of one or more glutathiones or salts thereof for enhancing plant growth.

16. The method of paragraph 15, wherein the method further comprises subjecting the seed to one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients.

17. The method of paragraph 16, wherein the step of subjecting the seed to one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients occurs before, during, after, or simultaneously with the step of contacting a plant or plant part with one or more glutathiones or salts thereof.

18. The method of paragraph 16, wherein the agriculturally beneficial ingredient is a one or more biologically active ingredients.

19. The method of paragraph 18, wherein the one or more biologically active ingredients are selected from the group consisting of one or more plant signal molecules, one or more beneficial microorganisms, and combinations thereof.

20. The method of paragraph 16, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients are one or more plant signal molecules selected from the group consisting of LCOs, COs, chitinous compounds, flavonoids, jasmonic acid, methyl jasmonate, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, karrikins, and combinations thereof.

21. The method of paragraph 16, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients comprises one or more COs.

22. The method of paragraph 16, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients comprises one or more LCOs.

23. The method of paragraph 16, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients comprises one or more flavonoids. 24. The method of paragraph 16, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients comprises one or more beneficial microorganisms.

25. The method of paragraph 24, wherein the one or more beneficial microorganisms comprise one or more nitrogen fixing microorganisms, one or more phosphate solubilizing microorganisms, one or more mycorrhizal fungi, or combinations thereof.

26. The method of paragraph 16, wherein the one or more agriculturally beneficial ingredients further comprises one or more micronutrients.

27. The method of paragraph 26, wherein the one or more micronutrients comprise phosphorous, copper, iron, zinc, or a combination thereof.

28. The method of paragraph 15, wherein, the contacting step comprises contacting a seed with a composition comprising the one or more glutathiones or salts thereof.

29. The method of paragraph 15, wherein the composition comprises the seed treatment composition of any of paragraphs 1-14.

30. The method of any of paragraphs 15-29, wherein the contacting comprises treating or coating a seed.

31 . A seed coated with a seed treatment composition of any of paragraphs 1-14.

The invention will now be described in terms of the following non-limiting examples. Unless indicated to the contrary, water was used as the control (indicated as "control" or "CHK").

EXAMPLES

The following examples are provided for illustrative purposes and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention as claimed herein. Any variations in the exemplified examples which occur to the skilled artisan are intended to fall within the scope of the present invention.

Example 1 :

The effect of glutathione on corn seedling growth was evaluated. Corn seeds (Monsanto DKC51 -41 RR2 seeds, Cruiser extreme treated) were treated with reduced glutathione (Sigma- Aldrich, USA) solution. Glutathione solutions of 100 mg/L, 200 mg/L, and 500 mg/L were prepared by measuring the powdered form and dissolving it in distilled water. In a clear plastic bag (25 cm x 25 cm), 100 gram seeds were treated with 1 ml of water (as control) and 1 mL of the 100, 200, and 500 mg/L treatment solutions separately and shaken vigorously. One day following treatment, seeds were planted in 6" plastic pots containing sand:perlite 1 :1 mix. There were 10 pots/treatment; each pot being a replicate. Plant height was measured 8 days after planting. Plant leaf greenness and final harvest were made 2 weeks after planting. Plant leaf greenness was measured using a SPAD chlorophyll meter (Spectrum Technology, USA). Results are provided in Table 1.

Table 1. Effect of reduced glutathione (GSH) on corn seedling growth

Gro th parareseters Contro 65 B 100 GSH 290 GSH SOD

?\ t height {on}* S.S6b I2.Q?a Il.SSas

Chlorophyll eonieni T 24.€8b 27,93a 27,83a

Plant root dry weight rng}~ 0.228ab 0.231a b 0.226b

P test shoot ά ry ei ght ( rrsg Γ 0.25Sb a misb Q.3I16sb Q.33&S

Tots! plisntdrY Sigbt Tig ' r 0.4:97b a.555 a 0.542.3 0.5S53:

* ion e k s te r ' " f 2 weeks after)

Mean values represented by the same letter are statistically different at 0.05 level

Results provided in Table 1 indicate that plant height, chlorophyll content, root dry weight, and total plant dry biomass was significantly better than control. Treated seeds also demonstrated an increase in plant shoot dry weight over the control. Plant shoot dry weight was increased over the control at concentrations of 100 mg/L and 200 mg/L.

Example 2:

The effect of reduced glutathione on corn was evaluated. Corn seeds (Syngenta-NK N51 T corn) treated with GSH (100 mg/L) and water similar to the protocols of Example 1 . Instead of growing the seeds in a greenhouse, the seeds were grown in 50 mm x 15 mm polystyrene petriplates (Fisherband) on 5 3/8" germination paper circle (Anchor Paper Co., Saint Paul, Mn) moistened with 12 ml distilled water. Four petriplates were prepared per treatment as 4 replicates. Petri plates were then placed in the dark in under-counter cabinets in the lab at 24 °C for 7 days. After 7 days, seedlings were removed from the cabinets, exposed to light, and their main roots severed and measured for various root parameters with WinRhizo root scanner (Regent Instruments Inc., WinRhizo Pro 2007). For all statistical analysis, student t-test was applied using JMPv.9 statistical software. Results are provided in Table 2. Table 2. Effect of reduced glutathione on corn

Tisstment IsiigEiHsns Average &amttiffiwt>S ¥slume$OT'§

¾:>._t C¾!i¾Sti¾ TOtSl rvX>t C:>!-<:p-:s? ¾SOt i ^if t!!i ¾Ε.Κί

CsrstroS 1S.S71S- 1927= IS.SSSb &?S8a i.SSfe &S7S7S Q,04 ¾ ai2ib

SSH 19.7S6S* 2.8S8a 31.5903* SSa l.?ffi¾ &£SS-iS3* &SS 2s Q.15Q3* ffombe rof s ¾ates : 12; * dsfiotes isgriilstafitdsfference siS.5¾ lev si

Root length and root volume generated by seeds treated with GSH were significantly increased over the control. The average root diameter was also increased with GSH treatment but non-significantly. Average coleoptile length, diameter, and volume were increased with GSH treatment over the control but non-significantly.

Example 3:

The effect of glutathione on the seedling growth of various crops was evaluated. Seeds of chickpea, cotton, pinto bean and soybean were treated according to the protocols of Example 1. One day after seed treatment, 10 seeds of each crop variety were plated in 150 mm x 15 mm polystyrene petriplates (Fisherband) on 5 3/8" germination paper circle (Anchor Paper Co., Saint Paul, Mn) moistened with 12 ml distilled water. Four petriplates were prepared per treatment as 4 replicates. Petri plates were then placed in the dark in under-counter cabinets in the lab at 24 °C for 7 days. After 7 days, seedlings were removed from the cabinets, exposed to light, and their main roots severed and measured for various root parameters with WinRhizo root scanner (Regent Instruments Inc., WinRhizo Pro 2007). For all statistical analysis, student t-test was applied using JMPv.9 statistical software. Results are provided in Table 3.

Table 3. Effect of glutathione on seedling growth of various crops

Crops eaicnV)

Centre-! SSH GSH SSH s-ntiO) SSH:

3i,S7ia 21.8.2a 23..1*2= a.71-0 ¾ 7736* Q.37Sij

Cotton 11 S3.3*¾ SS137a* ' 11.523b . a « assso as¾* ΰ.-SSs* *

P nts BsKi H 2 .Si7b $25.52Sa* iiS-lfe 53.3733 s 0.--72S S;SS75 S,S3Ss**

!&3Ώί 2-S.-S£7a &525is as?** &Ξ21ίϊ 0.37Ss*

Sign! sri diifer-sri-s: "dsrsotes stgKGiSS snd ** derates sr 3.¾; rsurrsisi ^ «rs f¾;nt.^c:^-rs-pj¾^esd& Citsni^a^of :r^¾¾cate£.

The results show glutathione had higher values than control. For chickpea and soybean, root diameter and root volume were significantly higher than control; however, all values were increased over the control with GSH treatment. For cotton and pinto bean, all four growth parameters were significantly greater than control.

Example 4:

The effect of glutathione and LCO on corn seedling growth was evaluated. Syngenta- NK N51T corn seeds were treated with GSH and LCO (Pea non-acylated nod factor, 10 "8 M). LCO stock solution was prepared by dissolving LCO in 50:50 ethanol/water solvent. Seeds were then treated according to the protocols of Example 1 . Seeds were planted 1 day after treatment in greenhouse under artificial lighting in 5" plastic pots containing 1 :1 sand/perlite mix. There were 5 pots each containing one plant per treatment. Plants were allowed to grow for 2 weeks and then harvested. A non-destructive harvest was made by washing sand/perlite soil mix under running tap water. After cleaning, each plant was placed on a clear plexiglass-tray containing enough water to spread the roots in liquid. The tray was then placed on the WinRhizo root scanner (Regent Instruments Inc., WinRhizo Pro 2007) for measurement. For all statistical analysis, student t-test was applied using JMPv.9 statistical software. Results are provided in Table 4.

Table 4. Effect of GSH and LCO on corn seedling growth

Growth sfaroste!s Csiec;p1

-S&.S3- 7 s 133. SSa 9.-S5b iS.2S2z<

Surfers arss icm * ; 27 -S,i?a IS.SSs LSS¾ i.-iSb

S/JSSs &733s - - - - .-S7Sa 0.25

The data measured by the WinRhizo root scanner showed that there was an increase for all root measurements receiving the GSH+LCO treatments over the control; however, the values were not statistically significant. The GSH+LCO treatment resulted in significant length, surface area, and volume increases over the control. The plants grown out of LCO and GSH treated seeds were the tallest when the lengths of both root and coleoptile are added.

It will be understood that the Specification and Examples are illustrative of the present embodiments and that other embodiments within the spirit and scope of the claimed embodiments will suggest themselves to those skilled in the art. Although this invention has been described in connection with specific forms and embodiments thereof, it would be appreciated that various modifications other than those discussed above may be resorted to without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. For example, equivalents may be substituted for those specifically described, and in certain cases, particular applications of steps may be reversed or interposed all without departing from the spirit or scope for the invention as described in the appended claims.