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Cristhian Camilo Chávez-Arias, Sandra Gómez-Caro and Hermann Restrepo-Díaz

Physalis peruviana L. crops are exposed to different stress conditions that limit their productivity. Within these conditions, abiotic stress caused by water and biotic stress by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. physali (Foph) are frequent at commercial levels. The foliar application of synthetic elicitors can be a tool to mitigate the negative impacts of these stresses. The objective of this study was to evaluate the interaction between Foph inoculation and three foliar applications of brassinosteroids (BR), salicylic acid (SA), and a commercial elicitor based on botanical extracts (BE) of Echinacea purpurea, Potentilla erecta, and Aloe vera on the physiological [stomatal conductance (g S), leaf water potential (Ψwf), chlorophyll fluorescence, and growth] and biochemical [photosynthetic pigments, malondialdehyde (MDA) production, and proline content] responses of cape gooseberry plants subjected to a 6-day waterlogging period. The established treatments were as follows: 1) waterlogged plants without Foph; 2) waterlogged plants with Foph; 3) waterlogged, noninoculated (Foph) plants treated foliarly with BR, SA, or BE; and 4) waterlogged, inoculated (Foph+) plants treated foliarly with BR, SA, or BE. The results showed that the foliar application of BR or SA reduced vascular wilt development in plants subjected to a hypoxia period. In addition, three applications of BR, SA, or BE favored g S, Ψwf, growth, and chlorophyll fluorescence parameters in cape gooseberry plants under the interaction between Foph and oxygen deficit in the soil. Also, higher photosynthetic pigment and proline contents were observed in plants treated with elicitors under stress combination, whereas a lower MDA production was evidenced in this group of plants. In conclusion, BR, SA, or BE can help mitigate the negative effects of the simultaneous occurrence of Foph and a waterlogging condition for 6 days in cape gooseberry plants.