Kinetin Capped Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles Improve Plant Growth and Ameliorate Resistivity to Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)-Induced Drought Stress in Vigna radiata (L.) R. Wilczek (Mung Bean)
Plants are sessile and mostly exposed to various environmental stresses which hamper plant growth, development, and significantly decline its production. Drought stress is considered to be one of the most significant limiting factors for crop plants, notably in arid and semi-arid parts the world. Therefore, the present study aimed to evaluate the potential impact of different concentrations (10, 100, and 200 µg/mL) of kinetin capped zinc oxide nanoparticles (Kn-ZnONPs) on Vigna radiata (L.) R. Wilczek under varying levels (5%, 10%, 15%) of PEG-induced drought stress. ZnONPs were synthesized by a co-precipitation method using Zinc acetate as a precursor at pH-12, incinerated to 500 °C, and kinetin was used as a surface functionalizing agent. The resulting Kn-ZnONPs were characterized by various contemporary analytical techniques, including SEM, SEM-EDS, XRD, DLS, and Zeta potential and IR spectroscopy. Crystalline Kn-ZnONPs, with a zeta potential of 27.8 mV and a size of 67.78 nm, of hexagonal wurtzite structure and vibrational stretches associated with N-H, C-O, C-N, etc., were confirmed. PEG-induced drought stress significantly reduced the growth of V. radiata by declining the chlorophyll and carotenoid contents. Moreover, a significant decrease in the levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT), ascorbate peroxidase (APX), soluble sugar contents, proline, protein contents, phenol, and tannin were observed compared to the control. However, the exogenous application of Kn-ZnONPs ameliorated all photosynthetic parameters by up-regulating the antioxidant defense system through the promotion of SOD, POD, CAT, and lipid peroxidation levels. The biochemical parameters, such as proteins, soluble sugars, and proline, were observed to be maximum in plants treated with 200 µg/mL Kn-ZnONPs under 5% drought stress. The application of Kn-ZnONPs also enhanced the total phenol contents, flavonoid, and tannin contents. In conclusion, the findings of this study demonstrate that the exogenous application of Kn-ZnONPs provides beneficial effects to V. radiata by attenuating the damaging effects of drought stress through the up-regulation of the antioxidant defense system and osmolytes. These results suggest that Kn-ZnONPs have potential as a novel approach to improve crop productivity under drought stress conditions.