29 Oct New Uses for Beneficial Soil Bacteria
Soils that contain high salt content are a critical problem for agriculture in many parts of the world. Saline soils are a major stress on plants, and also limit the growth of beneficial soil bacteria. Salt also inhibits nodulation for those plants that depend on it for nitrogen.
Recently in the country of Uzbekistan, A researcher named Dilfuza Egamberdieva discovered several strains of bacteria that can not only survive in saline soils, but also have properties that help boost plant growth. These salt-resistant bacteria have the ability to directly colonize on the plant’s roots. They work together with the plant by helping root growth, supplying antibiotics against fungi and promoting root nodulation. In return, the plant supplies food for the bacteria.
Tests have been done using these beneficial bacteria as a “fertilizer” and applying them to food crops. So far experiments have only been done at a small scale on tomato and cucumber, but in those trials they found a 12-15% boost in crop yield. The next step is to apply these bacteria over a larger scale and see if these results continue to appear.
What makes these particular strains of bacteria potentially beneficial for agriculture is that they are a type of bacteria known as rhizobacteria. Rhizobacteria have the ability to live directly on plant roots and form mutual relationships with plants. The bacteria will offer a particular benefit that helps increase plant growth or health. In return the plant provides the bacteria with a food source and a place to live.
Commercial products that contain beneficial rhizobia do exist, but the potential uses of these bacteria are just being discovered. Research is growing rapidly on ways to use rhizobia to benefit farmers and other food producers.
Image source: XiteBio Technologies Inc.