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Evaluation of plant growth promoting activity and heavy metal tolerance of psychrotrophic bacteria associated with maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) rhizosphere

Laboratorio de Ecología Microbiana y Biotecnología, Departamento de Biología, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Lima, Peru

Special Issues: Plant probiotic bacteria: solutions to feed the World

The high Andean plateau of Peru is known to suffer harsh environmental conditions. Acidic soils containing high amount of heavy metals due to mining activities and withstanding very low temperatures affect agricultural activities by diminishing crop quality and yield. In this context, plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) adapted to low temperatures and tolerant to heavy metals can be considered as an environment-friendly biological alternative for andean crop management. The aim of this work was to select and characterize psychrotrophic PGPR isolated from the rhizosphere of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) a traditional andean food crop. A total of 44 psychrotrophic strains isolated from 3 areas located in the Bombon plateu of Junin-Peru were tested for their PGPR characteristics like indole acetic acid (IAA) production, phosphate solubilization and for their ability to improve seed germination. In addition, their capacity to grow in the presence of heavy metals like cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), cobalt (Co) and mercury (Hg) was tested. Of the total number of strains tested, 12 were positive for IAA production at 22 °C, 8 at 12 °C and 16 at 6 °C. Phosphate solubilization activities were higher at 12 °C and 6 °C than at 22 °C. Red clover plant assays showed that 16 strains were capable to improve seed germination at 22 °C and 4 at 12 °C. Moreover, 11 strains showed tolerance to Cd and Pb at varying concentrations. This study highlight the importance of obtaining PGPRs to be used in high andean plateu crops that are exposed to low temperatures and presence of heavy metals on soil.
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