Synergistic effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and plant growth-promoting bacteria benefit maize growth under increasing soil salinity

Helena Moreira, Sofia I. A. Pereira, Alberto Vega, Paula M. L. Castro, Ana P. G. C. Marques*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Salt-affected soils are a major problem worldwide for crop production. Bioinocula such as plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can help plants to thrive in these areas but interactions between them and with soil conditions can modulate the effects on their host. To test potential synergistic effects of bioinoculants with intrinsically different functional relationships with their host in buffering the effect of saline stress, maize plants were grown under increasing soil salinity (0–5 g NaCl kg−-1 soil) and inoculated with two PGPB strains (Pseudomonas reactans EDP28, and Pantoea alli ZS 3-6), one AMF (Rhizoglomus irregulare), and with the combination of both. We then modelled biomass, ion and nutrient content in maize plants in response to increasing salt concentration and microbial inoculant treatments using generalized linear models. The impacts of the different treatments on the rhizosphere bacterial communities were also analyzed. Microbial inoculants tended to mitigate ion imbalances in plants across the gradient of NaCl, promoting maize growth and nutritional status. These effects were mostly prominent in the treatments comprising the dual inoculation (AMF and PGPB), occurring throughout the gradient of salinity in the soil. The composition of bacterial communities of the soil was not affected by microbial treatments and were mainly driven by salt exposure. The tested bioinocula are most efficient for maize growth and health when co-inoculated, increasing the content of K+ accompanied by an effective decrease of Na+ in plant tissues. Moreover, synergistic effects potentially contribute to expanding crop production to otherwise unproductive soils. Results suggest that the combination of AMF and PGPB leads to interactions that may have a potential role in alleviating the stress and improve crop productivity in salt-affected soils.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109982
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • AMF
  • Bioinocula
  • GLM
  • PGPB
  • Salt stress


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