Use of rhizobacteria for the alleviation of plant stress
Abstract: Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria are beneficial microbes able to induce plant stress tolerance and antagonise plant pathogens. The present study showed that wheat seedlings pre-treated with Bacillus thuringiensis AZP2 had better tolerance to severe drought stress and showed 78% greater plant biomass and five-fold higher survivorship compared to wheat seedlings not treated with the bacterium. The effect of B. thuringiensis AZP2 also resulted in improved net assimilation and reduced emission of stress volatiles. The study investigated the effect of the inactivation of sfp-type phosphopantetheinyl transferase in plant growth promoting bacterium Paenibacillus polymyxa A26. The inactivation of the sfp gene resulted in loss of NRP/PK production such fusaricidins and polymyxins. In contrast to the former Bacillus spp. model the mutant strain compared to wild type showed greatly enhanced biofilm formation ability. Its biofilm promotion is directly mediated by NRP/PK, as exogenous addition of the wild type metabolite extracts restores its biofilm formation level. Further, increased biofilm formation was connected with enhanced ability of the sfp inactivated strain to remarkably protect wheat seedlings by improving its survival and biomass under severe drought stress conditions compared to wild type. Fusarium graminearum and F. culmorum are the causing agents of a destructive disease known as Fusarium head blight (FHB). The disease is the leading cause of contamination of grain with Fusarium mycotoxins that are severe threat to humans and animals. Biological control has been suggested as one of the integrated management strategies to control FHB causing agents. The present study showed that P. polymyxa A26 is a potent antagonistic agent against F. graminearum and F. culmorum. In order to optimize strain A26 production, formulation and application strategies traits important for its compatibility need to be revealed. Hence, a toolbox comprising of dual culture plate assays and wheat kernel assays including simultaneous monitoring of the FHB causing pathogens, A26 and mycotoxins produced was developed in the present study. Using this system results showed that, besides the involvement of lipopeptide antibiotic production by P. polymyxa in the antagonism process, biofilm formation ability may play a crucial role in the case of A26 F. culmorum antagonism.
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