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Plant Endophytes Promote Growth And Alleviate Salt Stress In Arabidopsis Thaliana

Di Fan, S. Subramanian, D. Smith
Published 2020 · Biology, Medicine

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Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) are a functionally diverse group of microbes having immense potential as biostimulants and stress alleviators. Their exploitation in agro-ecosystems as an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to traditional chemical inputs may positively affect agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability. The present study describes selected rhizobacteria, from a range of origins, having plant growth promoting potential under controlled conditions. A total of 98 isolates (ectophytic or endophytic) from various crop and uncultivated plants were screened, out of which four endophytes (n, L, K and Y) from Phalaris arundinacea, Solanum dulcamara, Scorzoneroides autumnalis, and Glycine max, respectively, were selected in vitro for their vegetative growth stimulating effects on Arabidopsis thaliana Col-0 seedlings with regard to leaf surface area and shoot fresh weight. A 16S rRNA gene sequencing analysis of the strains indicated that these isolates belong to the genera Pseudomonas, Bacillus, Mucilaginibacter and Rhizobium. Strains were then further tested for their effects on abiotic stress alleviation under both Petri-plate and pot conditions. Results from Petri-dish assay indicated strains L, K and Y alleviated salt stress in Arabidopsis seedlings, while strains K and Y conferred increases in fresh weight and leaf area under osmotic stress. Results from subsequent in vivo trials indicated all the isolates, especially strains L, K and Y, distinctly increased A. thaliana growth under both normal and high salinity conditions, as compared to control plants. The activity of antioxidant enzymes (ascorbate peroxidase, catalase and peroxidase), proline content and total antioxidative capacity also differed in the inoculated A. thaliana plants. Furthermore, a study on spatial distribution of the four strains, using either conventional Petri-plate counts or GFP-tagged bacteria, indicated that all four strains were able to colonize the endosphere of A. thaliana root tissue. Thus, the study revealed that the four selected rhizobacteria are good candidates to be explored as plant growth stimulators, which also possess salt stress mitigating property, partially by regulating osmolytes and antioxidant enzymes. Moreover, the study is the first report of Scorzoneroides autumnalis (fall dandelion) and Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet) associated endophytes with PGP effects.
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