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Co-Inoculation of Maize with Azospirillum brasilense and Rhizobium tropici as a Strategy to Mitigate Salinity Stress
Plants are highly affected by salinity, but some plant-growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) may trigger induced systemic tolerance (IST), conferring protection against abiotic stresses. We investigated plant mechanisms under saline stress (170 mM NaCl) when maize was singly or co-inoculated with Azospirillum brasilense strains Ab-V5 and Ab-V6 and Rhizobium tropici strain CIAT 899. Under greenhouse conditions, plants responded positively to inoculation and co-inoculation, but with differences between strains. Inoculation affected antioxidant enzymes that detoxify reactive oxygen species (ROS)—ascorbate peroxidase (APX), catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD)—mainly in leaves. Proline contents in leaves and roots and malondialdehyde (MDA) in leaves—plant-stress-marker molecules—were significantly reduced due to the inoculation, indicating reduced need for the synthesis of these molecules. Significant differences were attributed to inoculation in the expression of genes related to antioxidant activity, in general with up-regulation of APX1, CAT1, SOD2 and SOD4 in leaves, and APX2 in roots. Pathogenesis-related genes PR1, prp2, prp4, and heat-shock protein hsp70 were down-regulated in leaves and roots, indicating that inoculation with PGPB might reduce the need for this protection. Alltogether, the results indicate that inoculation with PGPB might provide protection from the negative effects of saline stress. However, differences were observed between strains, as A. brasilense Ab-V5 did not show salt tolerance, while the best inoculation treatments to mitigate saline stress were with Ab-V6 and co-inoculation with Ab-V6+CIAT 899. Inoculation with these strains may represent an effective strategy to mitigate salinity stress.
FP17167 Accepted 09 September 2017
© CSIRO 2017