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Microb Ecol. 2006 Nov;52(4):670-8. Epub 2006 Oct 31.

An indigenous drought-tolerant strain of Glomus intraradices associated with a native bacterium improves water transport and root development in Retama sphaerocarpa.

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  • 1Departamento de Microbiología del Suelo y Sistemas Simbióticos, Estación Experimental del Zaidín, CSIC, Prof. Albareda 1, 18008 Granada, Spain.


The effects of interactions between Bacillus thuringiensis, a drought-adapted bacterium, and two isolates of Glomus intraradices, an arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungus, on Retama sphaerocarpa, a drought-adapted legume, were investigated. The fungal isolates were an indigenous drought-tolerant and a nonindigenous drought-sensitive isolate. Shoot length and root growth, symbiotic parameters, water transport (in terms of percent relative plant water uptake), and volumetric soil moisture and soil enzymatic activities in response to microbial inoculations were evaluated. Retama plants colonized by G. intraradices plus Bacillus possessed similar shoot length after 30 days from sowing compared with noninoculated Retama plants after 150 days. Inoculation with drought-adapted bacterium increased root growth by 201%, but maximum root development was obtained by co-inoculation of B. thuringiensis and the indigenous G. intraradices. Nodules were formed only in plants colonized by autochthonous AM fungi. Relative water uptake was higher in inoculated than in noninoculated Retama plants, and these inoculants depleted soil water content concomitantly. G. intraradices-colonized Retama reached similar shoot length irrespective of the fungal origin, but there were strong differences in relative water uptake by plants colonized by each one of the fungi. Indigenous G. intraradices-colonized roots (evaluated as functional alkaline phosphatase staining) showed the highest intensity and arbuscule richness when associated with B. thuringiensis. The interactive microbial effects on Retama plants were more relevant when indigenous microorganisms were involved. Co-inoculation of autochthonous microorganisms reduced by 42% the water required to produce 1 mg of shoot biomass. This is the first evidence of the effectiveness of rhizosphere bacterium, singly or associated with AM fungus, in increasing plant water uptake, which represents a positive microbial effect on plants grown under drought environments.

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