The effect of endophytic bacteria on the alfalfa-sinorhizobium symbiosis
Al Otaibi, Fahad Nasser
Although plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) have shown tremendous potential to be used as inoculants for many agricultural crops, they may not survive severe environmental conditions in the field which could limit their large scale applications. Endophytic bacteria, which can be recovered from inside plant tissues such as roots, stems and leaves, might overcome this limitation due to their unique ecological niche inside plant roots where they are sheltered from external environmental disturbances. Some of these bacterial endophytes have beneficial effects on their host plants and stimulate plant growth or reduce disease symptoms, apparently through mechanisms that are similar to those proposed for PGPR. The objective of this study was to assess a collection of endophytic bacteria for PGPR traits and potential use to enhance the rhizobial-legume symbiosis. Forty isolates obtained from the roots of various plants were identified by fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) analysis, and 16S RNA gene sequencing analysis. The majority (i.e., 75%) were identified as Pseudomonas species. Many of these isolates were able to solubilize phosphate, produce indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), produce aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) deaminase, synthesize siderophores and show antagonistic activities against several soil-borne plant pathogenic fungi under in vitro conditions. Selected isolates were further evaluated for the ability to enhance plant growth and nodulation of alfalfa when co-inoculated with Sinorhizobium meliloti under growth chamber conditions using growth pouch and potted soil assays. Results revealed that P. putida strain EB EE 4-25, P. syringae strain EB XDE 4-48, and P. fluorescens strain EB EE 2-23 significantly increased shoot length, root length, enhanced nodulation and increased lateral root formation of alfalfa plants in growth pouch and potted soil assays when co-inoculated with S. meliloti strain P102 compared to plants inoculated with S. meliloti strain P102 alone. Results also suggested that expression of one or more of the mechanisms, such as solubilization of phosphate, production of IAA, production of siderophores, and ACC deaminase production might have played a role in the enhancement of the alfalfa- Sinorhizobium symbiosis. These results suggest that some endophytic bacterial strains may be useful as biofertilizers and/or biocontrol agents in sustainable agricultural practices.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorGermida, James J.; Siciliano, Steven D.
CommitteeWalley, Fran L.; Van Rees, Ken C. J.; Hynes, Russell K.
Copyright DateJuly 2010