【Report】The 50th AJI Frontier Seminar on “Regulation of Antioxidants and Nitric Oxide in Plants and Their Application to the Development of Organic Pesticides”

 On December 13th, 2022, the 50th AJI Research Frontier Seminar took place online. This time, Dr. Mufidah Afiyanti, a senior researcher at the College of Life Sciences, Ritsumeikan University, delivered a presentation on an important issue entitled “Regulation of Antioxidants and Nitric Oxide in Plants and Their Application to the Development of Organic Pesticides”, in English.

 Dr. Mufidah began by explaining that various types of abiotic and biotic stress factors like soil salinity, drought, wind, extreme temperature, heavy metals, waterlogging, aggressive weeds, and also phyto pathogens like bacteria, fungi, and nematodes which attack plants, reduce plant growth, productivity, and the quality of cultivated crops. In addition, the continuous application of chemical herbicides for weed management causes a decrease in soil quality.

 Nitric oxide is important for plants growth, development and adaptive processes through plant cell regulation, and Antioxidants prevent cell damage under different stresses by responding to the changing environmental conditions. In the plant cell the AsA-GSH cycle is a major antioxidant defence pathway for detoxification. Dr. Mufidah’s research is focusing on the development of plant-based herbicides, which are easy to manage and minimize environmental toxicity, but standardization is challenging due to variations in habitat, climate, harvesting patterns. She explained that investigation on Nitric Oxides and Antioxidants is lacking, and research is still ongoing, but the prospective outcomes are extremely hopeful for reducing plant damage through chemical pesticides and fortifying crops against the harmful effects of climate change. Dr, Mufidah is aiming to come up with concrete scientific proofs results that will encourage farmers to switch from using harmful chemical pesticides and herbicides to more environmentally friendly organic products. Her presentation was quite technical and scientific, but she demonstrated complex chemical processes on her slides with clear understandable diagrams.

 This interesting presentation generated some questions from and comments from the audience. We learned that some rice farmers in Shiga are experimenting with environmentally friendly pesticides and herbicides. We also learned that weed management is best conducted by using a combination of mechanical and biological or chemical processes. There was an important question about how to promote the organic farming methods in Japan, where farmers have been conditioned to use chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides, and there is a resistance to adopting unproven organic farming methods. The conclusion was that the immediate effects of chemical fertilizers are well known and well documented, whereas organic methods are not. Therefore, the best way to promote greener methods is to produce clear proof that plant-based stimulants and herbicides are more effective, cheaper, and safer. We hope that Dr. Mufidah’s research will lead to a more sustainable approach to agricultural development in the future.

Dr. Mufidah delivering her presentation
Dr. Mufidah delivering her presentation