Investigating the Efficacy of Dry Region Zinc Solubilizing Bacteria for Growth Promotion of Maize and Wheat under Axenic Conditions

Muhammad Umair Asghar, Azhar Hussain, Hammad Anwar, Abubakar Dar, Hafiz Tanvir Ahmad, Qudsia Nazir, Nadeem Tariq, Muhammad Usman Jamshaid


Zinc (Zn) plays a crucial role as a micronutrient, essential for the growth, development, and proper functioning of plants. Pakistani soils are deficient of micronutrient especially zinc. Supplementation of Zn fertilizers cannot do the job because only a small fraction of Zn is available to plants and rest is fixed in soil. To enhance the Zn availability different methods are being used which are expensive. Zinc solubilizing bacteria (ZSB) can be a potential candidate for solubilization of Zn and growth promoting activities in cereals. The present study aimed to evaluate the potential of dry region bacterial strains of Bahawalpur for improving Zn uptake and growth improvement in wheat and maize. Rhizosphere samples of wheat and maize were taken from the dry regions of Bahawalpur and bacterial strains were isolated and tested for their Zn solubilizing ability and screened for urease, siderophore activity, exopolysaccharide production, phosphorus solubilization and plant growth promoting abilities. Under axenic conditions selected isolates were further screened to assessed for improving the growth of wheat and maize seedlings. The rhizobacterial isolates IUB-34, IUB-80, IUB-93 and IUB-96 performed best to improve growth, physiology, biochemical attributes and root colonization. The maximum increase in root and shoot lengths were recorded 32.2 and 35.7% in wheat under IUB-34 application and in maize 43.8 and 39.9%, respectively, under IUB-96 application as compared to uninoculated control. Furthermore, maximum root colonization was also recorded under IUB-34 in wheat and IUB-96 in maize seedlings. Moreover, the biochemical characterization of selected isolates showed IAA (Auxins) production, protease, catalase, cellulose degradation, HCN and ACC-deaminase activities by these strains. However, only IUB-34 and IUB-96 were found positive for oxidase activity. Therefore, study concluded that use of dry region ZSB can solubilize Zn and make it available for plant to improve growth of wheat and maize. So, these isolates may be utilized for coating urea as a biofertilizer to increase the biofortification in cereals.


Dry climate, Zinc solubilizing isolates; Wheat; Maize; Biofortification

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