BACKGROUND: Soil salinity causes reduction of crop productivity. Rhizosphere microbes have metabolic capabilities and ability to adaptation of plants to biotic and abiotic stresses. Plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) could play a role as elicitors for inducing tolerance to stresses in plants by affecting resident microorganism in soil. This study was conducted to demonstrate the effect of selected strains on rhizosphere microbial community under salinity stress.
METHODS AND RESULTS: The experiments were conducted in tomato plants in pots containing field soil; bacterial suspension was inoculated into three-week-old tomato plants, one week after inoculation, -1,000 kPa balanced salinity stress was imposed. The physiological and biochemical attributes of plant under salt stress were monitored by evaluating pigment, malondialdehyde (MDA), proline, soil pH, electrical conductivity (EC) and ion concentrations. To demonstrate the effect of selected Bacillus strains on rhizosphere microbial community, soil microbial diversity and abundance were evaluated with Illumina MiSeq sequencing, and primer sets of 341F/805R and ITS3/ITS4 were used for bacterial and fungal communities, respectively. As a result, when the bacterial strains were inoculated and then salinity stress was imposed, the inoculation decreases the stress susceptibility including reduction in lipid peroxidation, enhanced pigmentation and proline accumulation which subsequently resulted in better plant growth. However, bacterial inoculations did not affect diversity (observed OTUs, ACE, Chao1 and Shannon) and structure (principle coordinate analysis) of microbial communities under salinity stress. Furthermore, relative abundance in microbial communities had no significant difference between bacterial treated- and untreated-soils under salinity stress.
CONCLUSION: Inoculation of Bacillus strains could affect plant responses and soil pH of tomato plants under salinity stress whereas microbial diversity and abundance had no significant difference by the bacterial treatments. These findings demonstrated that Bacillus strains could alleviate plant’s salinity damages by regulating pigments, proline, and MDA contents without significant changes of microbial community in tomato plants, and can be used as effective biostimulators against salinity stress for sustainable agriculture.