Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a solvent frequently used in plant studies. The effects of DMSO upon plant growth appear to relate directly to concentrations of the substance and interactions with other substances present.
Research by Schmitz and Skoog at the University of Wisconsin in 1969 indicated that DMSO showed no apparent effect upon growth of tobacco plants in concentrations between 0.2 per cent and 0.4 per cent. In concentrations of 0.8 per cent and above, yield of the plants were reduced by 50 per cent or more. The plants did not show any damage from the DMSO.
The introduction of solvents including DMSO in research by Robison, Smid and Wolyn for the National Research Council Canada in 2006, indicated elevated levels of bacteria on plant roots in hydroponic environment. While DMSO showed lower levels of bacteria than ethanol or methanol, plant leaves were smaller and showed dead cells after eight days with concentrations between 0.05 per cent and 0.001 per cent of DMSO.
Research by H. Harry Szmant of the University of Detroit focused on the ability of DMSO to affect water present in cells. DMSO readily bonds with hydrogen. This is an area that will require further research to understand DMSO's effects upon biological systems.