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Important Chilean research will study the effect of iodine on plant growth and molecular responses in four relevant crop species: lettuce, tomato, cherry tree and strawberry. 


SQM and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile have signed a research collaboration agreement to investigate the agricultural importance of iodine as a plant nutrient.

The Plant System Biology Laboratory, headed by Dr. Rodrigo Gutierrez at the Faculty of Biological Sciences, seeks to understand how plants sense and respond to nutrients. Using combined cutting-edge systems biology and traditional molecular genetics strategies Dr. Gutiérrez’s group is dissecting the mechanisms of how nutrient signals interact with other signaling pathways to coordinate plant growth and development.

The trial performed during 2023, in collaboration with SQM, will evaluate the effect of a specific nutrient solution containing iodine on biomass, root growth and molecular responses in four important crop species: lettuce, tomato, cherry tree and strawberry. We will perform controlled experiments, together with in-depth characterization of iodine supply effect in crop species from the molecular to the organismal level. The results obtained in these trial and experiments should allow us to gain insights into the role of iodine on plant growth and development and crop yield.


SQM is a Chilean mining company that is present in strategic industries for sustainable development, such as health, food, technology, and clean energies.

The company has five business lines: Specialty Plant Nutrition; Iodine and Derivatives; Lithium and Derivates and Potassium. SQM’s potassium nitrate is a natural, chlorine-free and highly soluble fertilizer that optimizes water use in agriculture when applied using the most sophisticated irrigation technologies, thereby increasing the quality and yields of high value crops. Its specialty nutrients are sold in over 100 countries to more than 1,200 customers around the world.

SQM is committed to upholding its corporate values of Excellence, Safety, Integrity and Sustainability. SQM continuously innovates by improving process so that the company can be a leader in the industry while supporting communities where it operates.

SQM places a strong emphasis on sustainability, to minimizing its environmental impact and promoting responsible mining practices. The company has implemented a variety of programs to reduce its water consumption, improve energy efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile is a lead research University in Latin America. The Plant System Biology Lab is a world-wide recognized research group in the area of plant systems biology and nutrition.