DOI: 10.3390/applmicrobiol3030065 ISSN:

Screening of Rhizobacterial Isolates from Apple Rhizosphere for Their Biocontrol and Plant Growth Promotion Activity

Salma Jabiri, Ikram Legrifi, Majda Benhammou, Salah-Eddine Laasli, Fouad Mokrini, Mohammed Bendriss Amraoui, Rachid Lahlali
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Environmental Science

Apple crops are prone to several diseases that limit their production—in particular, root rot caused by a new genus of oomycetes, mainly Phytopythium vexans. This study aims to screen antagonistic bacteria that can play an important role in the biological control of this pathogenic oomycete and to evaluate their capacity to promote plant growth. The dual culture test revealed that, out of 200 bacterial isolates, 16 have been able to inhibit the mycelial growth of P. vexans with inhibition rates greater than 50%. The selected isolates were identified based on the 16S rDNA genes: 14 bacteria belonging to the genus Bacillus, Stenotrophomonas, and the family Enterobacteriaceae. Notably, two isolates, B1 and M2-6 (identified as Bacillus velezensis), demonstrated the highest inhibition rates of 70% and 68%, respectively. These selected isolates were examined for their ability to produce different compounds related to biocontrol and plant growth promotion. Furthermore, the 16 selected isolates were evaluated for their ability to produce compounds associated with biocontrol and plant growth promotion, including hydrolytic enzymes (cellulases, proteases, and amylases), HCN (hydrogen cyanide) production, phosphate solubilization, IAA (indole-3-acetic acid) production, pectinase production, and stimulation of sorghum bicolor growth in vivo. Variations were observed among the bacterial isolates in terms of their compound production and phytostimulation capabilities. However, the secretion of proteases was consistently detected in all antagonistic isolates. The presence of genes responsible for the production of antifungal lipopeptides (bacillomycin, fengycin, and iturin) in the selected bacterial isolates was determined using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques, while the absence of genes involved in surfactin biosynthesis was also confirmed through PCR studies. These isolates demonstrated inhibitory activity through the production of proteases and antifungal lipopeptides. Further research is needed to explore their potential use in biological control strategies and to improve apple crop productivity.

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