Plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) are known to increase plant tolerance to several abiotic stresses, specifically those from dry and salty environments. In this study, we examined the endophyte bacterial community of five plant species growing in the Thar desert of Pakistan. Among a total of 368 culturable isolates, 58 Bacillus strains were identified from which the 16 most divergent strains were characterized for salt and heat stress resilience as well as antimicrobial and plant growth-promoting (PGP) activities. When the 16 Bacillus strains were tested on the non-host plant Arabidopsis thaliana, B. cereus PK6-15, B. subtilis PK5-26 and B. circulans PK3-109 significantly enhanced plant growth under salt stress conditions, doubling fresh weight levels when compared to uninoculated plants. B. circulans PK3-15 and PK3-109 did not promote plant growth under normal conditions, but increased plant fresh weight by more than 50% when compared to uninoculated plants under salt stress conditions, suggesting that these salt tolerant Bacillus strains exhibit PGP traits only in the presence of salt. Our data indicate that the collection of 58 plant endophytic Bacillus strains represents an important genomic resource to decipher plant growth promotion at the molecular level.
KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): BAS/1/1062-01-01, BAS/1/1606-01-01, FCC/1/1976-02-01, URF/1/2302-01-01
Acknowledgements: The authors wish to acknowledge the experimental support from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Bioscience Core Laboratory. This work has been supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Base Research Fund (BAS/1/1062-01-01) to H.H. and (BAS/1/1606-01-01) to V.B.B., as well as KAUST Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under Awards No URF/1/2302-01-01 and FCC/1/1976-02-01.