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Worldwide, the conditions of biotic and abiotic stresses adversely affect the potential production of maize. Drought or heat facilitate the infection with fungi such as Aspergillus flavus and Fusarium moniliforme, and consequently increase the production of mycotoxins. There are several strategies for managing the problem, but in the future, people will prefer the cleaner and cheaper technology. The use of elicitors for protection of corn can be considered a cheap and clean technology. Chitosan elicitor is a linear polysaccharide produced commercially by deacetylation of chitin. It has been reported that this elicitor induce phytoalexin accumulation in plant tissue. Application of chitosan to seeds in rice significantly increased rice yield. About this, there are no reports in corn. For this reason, the aim of this study was to determine the protective effect of chitosan in maize seedlings subjected to abiotic stresses. To this end, three treatments were tested (a negative control, a positive control, and a group coated with chitosan solution) under four abiotic stresses conditions since their germination stage: drought, moisture, acid pH and alkaline pH. During five weeks, the seedlings growth was evaluated by measuring their total length, the length of leaves, stems and the thickness of these and presence of fungi. Positive effect was observed in seeds treated with chitosan or stressed with acidic pH in dimensions of seedlings and there was no fungal growth.
Key words: Abiotic stress, Zea mays, chitosan, pH, drought, humidity