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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1989 Mar;55(3):617-22.

Bradyrhizobium japonicum Survival in and Soybean Inoculation with Fluid Gels.

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Department of Agronomy, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583.


The utilization of gels, which are used for fluid drilling of seeds, as carriers of Bradyrhizobium japonicum for soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) inoculation was studied. Gels of various chemical composition (magnesium silicate, potassium acrylate-acrylamide, grafted starch, and hydroxyethyl cellulose) were used, although the hydroxyethyl cellulose gels were more extensively investigated. Gel inocula were prepared by mixing gel powder with liquid cultures of B. japonicum (2% [wt/vol]). The population of B. japonicum USDA 110 did not change in each gel type during 8 days of incubation at 28 degrees C. These fluid gels were prepared with late-exponential-growth-phase cells that were washed and suspended in physiological saline. Mid-exponential-growth-phase B. japonicum USDA 110, 123, and 138 grew in cellulose gels prepared with yeast extract-mannitol broth as well as or better than in yeast extract-mannitol broth alone for the first 10 days at 28 degrees C. Populations in these cellulose gels after 35 days were as large as when the gels had originally been prepared, and survival occurred for at least 70 days. Soybeans grown in sand in the greenhouse had greater nodule numbers, nodule weights, and top weights with gel inoculants compared with a peat inoculant. In soil containing 10 indigenous B. japonicum per g of soil, inoculation resulted in increased soybean nodule numbers, nodule weights, and top weights, but only nodule numbers were greater with gel than with peat inoculation. The gel-treated seeds carried 10 to 10 more bacteria per seed (10 to 10) than did the peat-treated seeds.

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