Diversity and characterization of culturable bacterial endophytes from Zea mays and their potential as plant growth-promoting agents in metal-degraded soils

S. I. A. Pereira*, P. M. L. Castro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this study, we evaluated the phylogenetic diversity of culturable bacterial endophytes of Zea mays plants growing in an agricultural soil contaminated with Zn and Cd. Endophytic bacterial counts were determined in roots and shoots, and isolates were grouped by random amplified polymorphic DNA and identified by 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene sequencing. Endophytes were further characterized for the production of plant growth-promoting (PGP) substances, such as NH3, siderophores, indol-3-acetic acid (IAA), hydrogen cyanide and extracellular enzymes, and for the capacity to solubilize phosphate. The endophytes producing higher amounts of IAA were screened for their tolerance to Zn and Cd and used as bioinoculants for maize seedlings grown in the Zn/Cd-contaminated soil. The counts of endophytes varied between plant tissues, being higher in roots (6.48 log10 g−1 fresh weight) when compared to shoots (5.77 log10 g−1 fresh weight). Phylogenetic analysis showed that endophytes belong to three major groups: α-Proteobacteria (31 %), γ-Proteobacteria (26 %) and Actinobacteria (26 %). Pseudomonas, Agrobacterium, Variovorax and Curtobacterium were among the most represented genera. Endophytes were well-adapted to high Zn/Cd concentrations (up to 300 mg Cd l−1 and 1,000 mg Zn l−1) and showed ability to produce several PGP traits. Strains Ochrobactrum haematophilum ZR 3-5, Acidovorax oryzae ZS 1-7, Frigoribacterium faeni ZS 3-5 and Pantoea allii ZS 3-6 increased root elongation and biomass of maize seedlings grown in soil contaminated with Cd and Zn. The endophytes isolated in this study have potential to be used in bioremediation/phytoremediation strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14110-14123
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Volume21
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2014

Keywords

  • Endophytes
  • Heavy metals
  • Indol-3-acetic acid
  • Metal tolerance
  • Phytoremediation
  • Plant growth-promoting traits

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