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Research Article - (2015) Volume 6, Issue 9

Maize (Zea Mays L.) Growth and Metabolic Dynamics with Plant Growth- Promoting Rhizobacteria under Salt Stress

Abd El-Ghany TM*, Masrahi YS, Mohamed A, Al Abboud, Alawlaqi MM and Nadeem I Elhussieny
Biology Department, Faculty of Science, Jazan University, 114, KSA
*Corresponding Author: Abd El-Ghany TM, Biology Department, faculty of Science, Jazan University, KSA Email:


Maize (Zea mays L.) biomass and its allied attributes were assessed under salinity stress and three plant growthpromoting rhizobacteria (Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas putida and Azotobacter vinelandii) treatments. The three PGPRs inocula exhibited a different pattern of shoot growth under both normal and saline stress conditions. Plant biomass, carbohydrates, protein and chlorophyll content were reduced by saline stress, however application of PGPRs treatments improved them either in comparison to control samples or to untreated samples under saline stress. Lipids and antioxidant enzymes (catalase and peroxidase) increased as a response for saline stress as an indication of oxidative stress. Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria treatment restored them to semi-normal levels. Sodium/ potassium balance was observed to be disturbed by saline stress through higher levels of Na+ and lower levels of K+, but treating samples balance was clearly restored close to normal conditions especially in the root system.

Keywords: Zea mays L., Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria, Salt stress


Biofertilizers diminish the need for expensive chemical fertilizers in crop farming systems because of they are an inexpensive source of nitrogen that increase crop yields. Thus the extensive use of biofertilizers would provide economic benefits to farmers, improve the socio-economic condition of the people and preserve natural resources. Biofertilizers are ecofriendly inputs and are less damaging to the environment when compared to chemical fertilizers [1,2]. Beneficial rhizobacteria, often referred to as plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR), affect plant growth either directly or indirectly through various mechanisms of action [3-6]. Although, the mechanisms by which PGPRs promote plant growth are not fully understood, some mechanisms include gibberellic acid and/or cytokinins production, nitrogen fixation, and solubilization of mineral phosphate and other nutrients [7].

Maize (Zea mays L.) is the third most important cereal after wheat and rice all over the world [8]. Subramaniyan et al. [9] stated, “the application of biofertilizers improved the total carbohydrate, protein, amino nitrogen and chlorophyll content of of Zea mays”. Five growthpromoting strains (Azotobacter sp. Lx191, Pseudomonas sp. Jm92, Bacillus sp. LM4-3, Bacillus sp.LH12-3, and Azospirillum sp. LHS11) were previously isolated from rhizosphere of wheat, maize, oat in arid fields,. These strains were proofed to stimulate these plant growth under controlled conditions via in vitro and pot experiments [10,11].

Soil salinity decreases plant growth, reduces photosynthetic activity and results in nutrient imbalance in plants.It was reported that PGPR significantly increased shoot/root fresh weight, shoot/root dry weight, chlorophyll a, b and cartenoid contents of maize under salt stress. PGPR can induce plant tolerance to salinity by producing various hormones and enhancing the availability of nutrients from the soil matrix [12]. Hasnain and Sabri [13] reported that inoculation with Pseudomonas sp. stimulated plant growth by reduction of toxic ion uptake and production of stress-specific proteins in plant. PGPR strains can also produce exopolysaccharides (EPSs) to bind cations including sodium, thus help alleviating salt stress in plants grown under saline environment [14]. The rhizosphere is the soil portion found around the root and under the influence of the root. It is the site with complex interaction between the root and associated microorganisms [15]. The rhizosphere harbors a multitude of microorganisms that are affected by both abiotic and biotic stresses. Among these are the dominant rhizobacteria that prefer living in close vicinity to the root or on its surface and play a crucial role in soil health and plant growth [16,17]. It has been noted by many workers that Pseudomonas, Bacillus, Arthrobacter, Azospirillum, Klebsiella, and Enterobacter, isolated from the rhizosphere of various crops, showed synergistic effects on plant growth [18]. Weller [19] reported that PGPR belong to several genera, e.g. Agrobacterium, Alcaligenes, Arthrobacter, Actinoplanes, Azotobacter, Bacillus, Pseudomonas sp., Rhizobium, Bradyrhizobium, Erwinia, Enterobacter, Amorpho sporangium, Cellulomonas, Flavobacterium, Streptomyces and Xanthomonas .These groups of bacteria are important as they are involved in various soil biochemical processes such as fixation of atmospheric nitrogen, solubilization of minerals such as phosphorus, production of siderophores that solubilize and sequester iron and/or production of plant growth regulators [20]. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria are widely distributed in nature where they reduce atmospheric nitrogen in soil or in association with plant [21]. They have been found in a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats in both temperate and tropical regions of the world [22]. Biofertilizer contains living microorganisms and promotes growth by increasing the availability of primary nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) to the host plant [23-26]. Among the free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria those belonging to genus Azotobacter play a remarkable role, being broadly dispersed in different environments, such as soil, water and sediments [27]. Several authors have shown the beneficial effects of Azotobacter chroococcum on vegetative growth and yields of maize [27-29], as well as the positive effect of inoculation with this bacterium on wheat [30]. Bacillus group was the most dominant strain found in the three types of biofertilizer products. The other bacteria were Azospirillum, Corynebacterium, Pseudomonas and Proteus mirabilis. These bacteria have the potential to fix atmospheric nitrogen, able to produce IAA with the supplemented tryptophan, and showed some phosphorus solubilizing activity [15,31]. The aim of this work was to assess the effect of PGPR on the growth of Z. mays. Also it was carried out to elucidate the role of PGPR on growth and ion uptake of maize under salt stressed condition.

Materials and Methods

Description of the study area

The present study focused on the area in Jazan. The study area is situated in Jazan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Lat. 16°53′21″ N , Long. 42°33′03″ E and 19 m Elevation above sea level) with the significant features of evergreen forests and also it was a less explored ecosystem for the investigation of biofertilizers population.

Bacterial strains used

PGPR were isolated from maize rhizosphere growing in Jizan area. Selection of isolates was performed on the basis of the PGPR traits. Selected isolates identified according standard microbiological methods as described in Bergys Manual of Systematic Microbiology [32]. The physiological and biochemical characters, included: starch hydrolysis, gelatin liquefaction, indole production, nitrate reduction, urease activity, citrate utilization, production of oxidase, catalase, methyl red, voges proskauer, tryptophane deaminase, gelatinase, lysine decarboxylase, arginine dihydrolase, ß-galactosidase and fermentation oxidation of the following carbon sources (D-glucose, D-mannitol, inositol, D-sorbitol, rhamnose, D-sucrose, D-melibiose maltose, fructose, inulin and L- arabinose) were used for identification of bacterial isolates. Bacterial isolates were grown on yeast manitol agar (YMA) supplemented with different concentrations of NaCl for salt tolerance test. Identification of highly NaCl tolerance was done using biochemical analysis. Pseudomonas fluorescens, Azotobacter vinelandii and Pseudomonas putida.

Inoculums preparation and Zea mays L. growth experimental design

Fresh cultures of selected isolates were inoculated in pikovisky media and shaken at 37°C for two days in an orbital shaker at 100 rpm. After two days bacterial cultures were centrifuged at 3000 rpm for 15 mins. Maize (Z. mays L.) grains were surface sterilised with 0.5% (v/v) NaOCl for 10 min and were subsequently washed with sterilized deionised water. The sterilized grains were soaked in distilled water in case of un-inoculated control. The rest of sterilized seeds were soaked in broth cultures of isolates form 4-5 hr prior to sowing at two different concentrations 104 (low concentration) and 108 (high concentration) bacterial cells. Grains were germinated in plastic pots (15 cm diameter) with 2 kg sterilized soil. After sowing, seedlings were reduced to three per pot. The pots were treated as the following: 1) Untreated control, 2) 104/ml bacterial cell suspension, 3)108/ml bacterial cell suspension, 4) 35 mM Na Cl solution, 5) 70 mM Na Cl solution, 6) 35 mM Na Cl +104/ml bacterial cell mixture, 7) 35 mM Na Cl +108/ml bacterial cell mixture, 8) 70 mM Na Cl +104/ml bacterial cell mixture and 9) 70 mM Na Cl +108/ml bacterial cell.

Growth parameters including dry weight, height, leaves length and width of Maize plants were recorded.

Na+ and K+ content analysis

Oven - dried samples of Zea mays roots and shoots were powdered for estimation of Na+ and K+ by flame photometric method [33].

Quantitative determination of chlorophyll

Chlorophylls content was determined with using the following equations:

Chlorophyll a (mg)/tissue (g) = 11.63 (A 665) –2.39 (A 649)

Chlorophyll b (mg)/tissue (g) = 2.11 (A 649) –5.18 (A 665)

Where A denotes the reading of the optical density.

Antioxidant enzymes catalase and peroxidase of healthy and infected plant were determined according to Kar and Mishra [34].

Estimation of Total protein content

Total protein was estimated calorimetrically [35] by recording absorbance at 595 nm. Bovine serum albumin was used as standard. Protein content in plant samples was recorded as mg of protein per g of sample.

Estimation of Total carbohydrate content

Plant extract was taken in 25 ml test tubes and 6 ml anthrone reagent (150 mg of anthrone in 72 % H2SO4.) was added, and then heated in boiling water bath for 10 min. The test tubes were ice cooled for 10 min and incubated for 20 min at 25ºC. Optical density (OD) was read at 625 nm on a spectrophotometer. The carbohydrate content was calculated from the standard curve using glucose with the same method which mentioned above [36].

Estimation of total lipid content

Total lipid was estimated using Vanillin reagent (6.1 g of vanillin was dissolved in water and diluted to 1 liter). The OD was read on a spectrophotometer at 540 nm. The lipid content was calculated from the standard curve using standard solution of cholesterol with the same method which mentioned above.


Plant biomass growth

Maize biomass in terms of plant height, stem diameter, leaf surface area, and plant dry weight was investigated in relation to saline stress (0, 35, and 70 mM) and PGPRs (Azotobacter vinelandii, Pseudomonas fluorescens and Pseudomonas putida ) treatments. Plant height (Table 1) was reduced from 103.33 cm to 91 cm by saline stress in untreated samples. PGPRs treatments improved plant height in both stressed and normal conditions. A. vinelandii at both their concentrations significantly increased plant height from 103.33 to 144.33 cm under normal conditions. Under saline stress A. vinelandii increased plant height at 35 mM by 33.77% and 13.55% at 70 mM saline stress. P. fluorescens was inferior to A. vinelandii as it was able to increase plant height in untreated samples to 131 cm in normal conditions while it was 29.17% more than untreated sample at 35 mM saline stress and no significant increase at 70 mM. P. putida did not improved plant height significantly both in normal and stressed conditions.

PGPR(Cell ml-1) Saline stress (mM)
0 35 70
Control 103.33±1.45cdef 101.67±9.28def 91.00±3.79f
A. vinelandii 104 132.33±7.84ab 114.33±5.33bcde 102.67±7.06cdef
108 144.33±4.37a 136.00±6.51ab 103.33±11.67cdef
P. fluorescens 104 125.00±2.89abc 100.67±8.35def 89.33±7.31f
108 131.00±4.58ab 131.33±10.27ab 92.33±8.88ef
P. putida 104 119.33±1.86bcd 105.67±7.45cdef 85.33±2.03f
108 119.33±3.84bcd 115.67±10.84bcd 98.67±2.96def
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 1: Mean comparison and standard error of maize plant height (cm) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.

Stem diameter was not significantly affected by saline stress (Table 2), however it was clearly influenced by PGPRs treatment. The three tested PGPRs (at 104and 108 cell ml-1 ) improve stem diameters by 38 – 66% under no saline stress. P. fluorescens was the best PGPR treatment that enhanced stem diameter from 2.8 to 4.03 cm at 35 mM saline stress and 108 cell ml-1 ; while stem diameter was 3.43 cm at 70 mM saline and 108 cell ml-1 against 2.17 cm at 70 mM saline untreated samples. A. vinelandii treatment improve plant stems diameter by 27.5% and 48.85 % at 35 and 70 mM saline stress respectively. P. putida both concentrations improve plant stems diameter to 3.8 at low saline stress and 3.37 at the higher one.

PGPR(Cell ml-1) Saline stress (mM)
0 35 70
Control 2.93±0.12efg 2.80±0.06fg 2.17±0.19g
A. vinelandii 104 4.07±0.22abcde 3.43±0.23cdef 2.63±0.19fg
108 4.67±0.38ab 3.57±0.23bcdef 3.23±0.46defg
P. fluorescens 104 4.27±0.15abcd 3.60±0.15bcdef 3.07±0.35defg
108 4.80±0.06a 4.03±0.09abcde 3.43±0.09cdef
P. putida 104 4.60±0.21abc 3.80±0.44abcdef 2.77±0.19fg
108 4.87±0.09a 3.17±0.67defg 3.37±1.07def
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 2: Mean comparison and standard error of maize stem diameter (cm) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.

Leaf surface area of maize plant was significantly reduced by 66.7% due to saline stress (Table 3). All tested PGPRs treatment increased plant leaf surface area to 298.35 cm2 under no saline stress. A. vinelandii and P. putida treatment limited leaf surface area reduction by saline stress from 66.7% to range between 31.8 and 6% at 35 mM stress and between 44.3 and 34.1% at 70 mM. P. fluorescens treatment was superior it was capable of increasing leaf surface area to 268.75 cm2 that is 16% more than control leaf surface area

PGPR(Cell ml-1) Saline stress (mM)
0 35 70
Control 231.25±16.16bcdef 77.00±3.82j 81.85±17.82j
A. vinelandii 104 258.68±14.81abcde 157.70±22.05fghij 128.78±24.20hij
108 293.08±25.93abc 179.88±50.12efghi 134.30±26.04hij
P. fluorescens 104 243.88±2.99abcde 190.30±37.53defghi 125.05±18.71ij
108 312.70±1.76a 268.75±33.11abcd 141.60±17.33ghij
P. putida 104 209.13±35.58defgh 157.73±21.21fghij 126.83±22.48ij
108 298.35±11.89ab 217.35±27.07cdefg 152.38±18.59fghij
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 3: Mean comparison and standard error of maize leaf surface area (cm2) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.

Plant dry weight (Table 4) was reduced from 6.4 g to 3.4 g by saline stress in untreated samples. PGPRs treatment improve plant dry weight in both stressed and normal conditions. A. vinelandii both concentrations significantly increased plant dry weight from 6.4 g to 11.2 g under normal conditions. Under saline stress A. vinelandii increased plant dry weight at 35 mM to 12.8 g. P. fluorescens was able to increase plant dry weight under no saline stress to 13.1 g while it was 11.9 g at 35 mM saline stress and 9.9 g at 70 mM. P. putida improved plant height significantly both in normal and stressed conditions.

PGPR(Cell ml-1) Saline stress (mM)
0 35 70
Control 6.40±0.29f 3.40±0.23h 4.00±0.29h
A. vinelandii 104 10.00±0.23d 11.10±0.29c 5.40±0.29g
108 11.20±0.29c 12.80±0.29b 6.80±0.35ef
P. fluorescens 104 9.30±0.17d 11.93±0.20c 5.07±0.26g
108 13.10±0.58b 11.30±0.23c 9.90±0.06d
P. putida 104 7.30±0.17ef 14.00±0.29a 6.20±0.12f
108 13.00±0.29b 14.20±0.23a 6.80±0.23ef
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 4: Mean comparison and standard error of maize dry weight (g) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.

Biochemical contents

Maize plant carbohydrate content (Table 5) was investigated during the current study. However, the differences in carbohydrates content among treatments was limited; it showed high degree of significance. Carbohydrate content was 79.2 mg/g in the control plant. PGPRs treatments at no saline stress increased carbohydrates content of the plant up to 82.2 mg/g. Although saline stress reduced plant carbohydrate content in all treated and untreated samples as compared to control sample; it is obvious that except of P. putida, the other treatments improve plant carbohydrate content as compared to untreated samples (Table 6).

PGPR(Cell ml-1) Saline stress (mM)
0 35 70
Control 79.20±0.13f 69.20±0.13j 66.20±0.13m
A. vinelandii 104 81.00±0.13c 69.95±0.13i 67.18±0.13l
108 81.69±0.13b 70.98±0.13h 67.89±0.13k
P. fluorescens 104 80.20±0.13e 70.20±0.13i 69.89±0.13i
108 82.20±0.13a 71.98±0.13g 69.94±0.13i
P. putida 104 80.00±0.13e 67.95±0.13k 65.28±0.12n
108 80.62±0.12d 67.58±0.13k 62.80±0.13o
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 5: Mean comparison and standard error of maize carbohydrates (mg/g) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.

PGPR(Cell ml-1) Saline stress (mM)
0 35 70
Control 26.17±0.02e 24.17±0.01h 20.17±0.18l
A. vinelandii 104 28.18±0.01d 25.18±0.06g 20.12±0.18l
108 32.13±0.06b 26.00±0.02e 20.93±0.01k
P. fluorescens 104 30.17±0.01c 25.17±0.06g 21.10±0.18k
108 33.17±0.06a 25.69±0.02f 21.99±0.01j
P. putida 104 26.19±0.01e 22.12±0.06j 18.94±0.01m
108 28.11±0.07d 23.33±0.32i 20.12±0.12l
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 6: Mean comparison and standard error of maize protein (mg/g) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.

Maize proteins were 26.17 mg/g in control sample. PGPRs treatments significantly improve plant protein content up to 33.17 mg/g under no saline stress. Saline stress reduced maize protein content to 24.17 and 20.17 mg/g at 35 and 70 mM saline stress, respectively. A. vinelandii and P. fluorescens treatment improve palnt protein content by 7.5% as compared to untreated sample at 35 mM. PGPRs treatment showed no considerable differences in the plant protein content when compared to untreated samples at 70 mM. Unlike other investigated primary metabolites, lipid content was significantly proportion to saline stress. Lipid content (Table 7) of maize was also improve by PGPRs treatments. A. vinelandii treatment raised lipid content in maiz plant from 18.65 to 20.56 mg/g at no saline stress, and to 23.95 mg/g at 70 mM saline stress. P. fluorescens treatment did not increase maize lipid content significantly as compared to untreated samples at no saline stress. P. putida improved lipid content in maize plant at 35 and 70 mM saline stress.

PGPR(Cell ml-1) Saline stress (mM)
0 35 70
Control 18.65±0.13h 19.14±0.14g 19.65±0.13f
A. vinelandii 104 18.02±0.06i 20.41±0.06de 23.05±0.02b
108 20.56±0.12d 21.15±0.01c 23.95±0.06a
P. fluorescens 104 19.65±0.12f 18.65±0.05h 18.15±0.05i
108 19.85±0.14f 18.45±0.12h 19.65±0.12f
P. putida 104 17.00±0.06j 19.21±0.07g 21.02±0.07c
108 18.54±0.12h 20.15±0.02e 20.90±0.12c
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 7: Mean comparison and standard error of maize lipid content (mg/g) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.

Chlorophyll content of maize plant was investigated in the current study. Under no saline stress A. vinelandii and P. fluorescens significantly improve chlorophyll a content (Table 8) to 6.99 and 7.99 mg/g, respectively. Saline stress reduced plant chlorophyll a content in both PGPRs treated and untreated samples. A. vinelandii and P. fluorescens treatments significantly limited chlorophyll a content reduction from 46.86% to 31.59 and 27.99% at 35 mM saline stress, respectively. Chlorophyll b content (Table 9) was reduced due to saline stress from 3.21 to 2.1 mg/g. PGPRs treatments either did not influence or reduced chlorophyll b content under no saline stress, 35 mM and 70 mM saline stress.

PGPR(Cell ml-1) Saline stress (mM)
0 35 70
Control 6.68±0.05c 3.55±0.09i 3.50±0.01i
A. vinelandii 104 6.77±0.06c 4.31±0.05f 3.62±0.14hi
108 6.99±0.01b 4.57±0.06e 3.65±0.13hi
P. fluorescens 104 7.91±0.03a 4.81±0.03d 3.78±0.07h
108 7.99±0.02a 4.98±0.03d 3.99±0.05g
P. putida 104 6.68±0.06c 3.65±0.02hi 3.50±0.02i
108 6.66±0.04c 3.66±0.06hi 3.62±0.07hi
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 8: Mean comparison and standard error of maize chlorophyll a  (mg/g) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.

PGPR(Cell ml-1) Saline stress (mM)
0 35 70
Control 3.21±0.01b 2.15±0.12efg 2.10±0.13fg
A. vinelandii 104 3.25±0.12ab 2.14±0.06efg 1.91±0.06g
108 3.32±0.04ab 2.10±0.12fg 1.91±0.13fg
P. fluorescens 104 3.45±0.12ab 2.45±0.08de 2.12±0.07fg
108 3.52±0.04a 2.52±0.12d 2.01±0.12fg
P. putida 104 2.19±0.12efg 2.45±0.08de 2.18±0.07efg
108 2.89±0.04c 2.50±0.12d 2.23±0.12def

Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 9: Mean comparison and standard error of maize chlorophyll b  (mg/g) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.

Antioxidant enzymes as indicators for oxidative stress exerted on the plant were investigated. Saline stress increased catalase concentration (Figure 1) in untreated and PGPRs treated samples. PGPRs treatments reduced the amount of catalase in plants under saline stress when compared to untreated stressed plants. Salinity stress increased peroxidase concentration (Figure 2) in untreated samples. PGPRs treated samples showed irregular response to saline stress as peroxidase concentration increased at 35 mM saline stress over the untreated samples concentrations while it was reduced at 70 mM to minimum when compared to samples under no saline stress.


Figure 1: Effect of saline stress and PGPRs treatments on catalase production (U/g) by maize plant.


Figure 2: Effect of saline stress and PGPRs treatments on peroxidase production (U/g) by maize plant.

Sodium potassium flux

Root system sodium potassium balance (Table 10) was investigated in this study. It was found that Sodium potassium balance did not influence by PGPRs treatments under normal conditions. Salinity stress disturbed the Na K balance as Na jumped up to 8.14 at 35 mM and 9.25 mg/g at 70 mM while K withdrawn to be 4.43 and 4.22 at 35 and 70 nM saline stress, respectively. A. vinelandii treatment restored Na K balance at 35 and 70 mM saline stress close to normal balance. P. fluorescens treatment reduced Na content of plant roots when compared to untreated samples at both 35 and 70 mM saline stress; while the K content slightly increased. P. putida was disabled to restore the balance as Na remained high and K low. Sodium and potassium contents in shoot system (Table 11) were influenced by saline stress as Na content increased up to 3.95 mg/g while the K content reduced to 23.85mg/g. PGPRs treatments slightly reduced Na content of the plant shoot system and increased its K content. Under 35 mM saline stress also, Na was slightly reduced by PGPRs treatments while the K content increased especially by A. vinelandii and P. fluorescens. The same pattern observed at 70 mM saline stress but both Na reductio and K improvement were limited.

PGPR(cell ml-1) 0 35 70
Na K Na K Na K
Control 5.78±0.032h 6.51±0.01e 8.14±0.027bc 4.43±0.03l 9.25±0.088a 4.22±0.01m
A. vinelandii 104 5.62±0.024h 7.07±0.04b 6.37±0.032f 6.31±0.05f 7.24±0.038e 5.13±0.01g
108 5.38±0.029i 8.07±0.10a 6.11±0.009g 6.22±0.05f 7.19±0.003e 5.20±0.03g
P. fluorescens 104 5.63±0.022h 6.59±0.02e 6.32±0.052f 4.75±0.03i 7.21±0.006e 4.54±0.02l
108 5.39±0.030i 6.96±0.01c 6.38±0.262f 4.91±0.01h 7.21±0.022e 4.44±0.01l
P. putida 104 5.72±0.007h 6.53±0.01e 8.04±0.031c 4.60±0.02jk 8.28±0.044bc 4.43±0.04l
108 5.67±0.022h 6.75±0.03d 7.77±0.075d 4.66±0.02ij 7.83±0.092d 4.44±0.03l

Na means followed by the same letter are not significantly different; K means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 10: Mean comparison and standard error of maize root system Na and K content (mg/g) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.

PGPR(cell ml-1) 0 35 70
Na K Na K Na K
Control 2.95±0.03gh 25.28±0.04g 3.51±0.03c 23.76±0.03i 3.95±0.08a 23.85±0.08i
A. vinelandii 104 2.29±0.03j 27.54±0.27d 3.15±0.03ef 28.57±0.01c 3.83±0.03b 26.23±0.12ef
108 2.15±0.01k 31.91±0.08a 3.12±0.01f 29.25±0.04b 3.32±0.01d 26.54±0.03e
P. fluorescens 104 2.31±0.03j 27.90±0.03d 3.15±0.03ef 28.47±0.07c 3.81±0.05b 26.16±0.08ef
108 2.23±0.09jk 32.17±0.41a 3.11±0.01f 29.31±0.05b 3.33±0.02d 26.42±0.07ef
P. putida 104 2.84±0.03h 26.05±0.07f 3.24±0.04de 24.42±0.05h 3.54±0.06c 23.94±0.07i
108 2.57±0.01i 27.56±0.06d 2.98±0.05gh 26.28±0.03ef 3.56±0.02c 24.38±0.04h

Na means followed by the same letter are not significantly different; K means followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

Table 11: Mean comparison and standard error of maize shoot system Na and K content (mg/g) under saline stress and PGPRs treatment.


The effect of three PGPRs (Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas putida and Azotobacter vinelandii) application on the Maize (Zea mays L.) growth and its allied attributes was assessed under saline stress in the current study. The results showed that the application of PGPRs significantly increased the shoot and root growth as compared to untreated plants. Parida and Das [37] reported that, the negative effects of salinity stress on plant-growth include a reduction in growth rate and biomass, shorter stature, smaller leaves, osmotic effects, nutritional deficiency and mineral disorders. Therefore, according to Bacilio et al. [38] the use of PGPR to promote plant-growth in saline conditions is an important technology. The three PGPRs inocula exhibited a different pattern of shoot growth under both normal and salinity stressed conditions. Plant height, dry weight, stems diameter,and leaf surface area were clearly improved by PGPRs treatments in normal conditions. In fact, field trials have demonstrated that, inoculation with Azotobacter has beneficial effects on plant yields, due to the increase of fixed nitrogen content in agricultural soil [28,39-43], and to the microbial secretion of stimulating hormones, like gibberellins, auxins and cytokinins [44,45]. Our results showed that P. fluorescens was the best inoculum for Zea mays growth enhancing. These results confirm previous findings where the enhancing effect of Zea mays inoculation with P. fluorescens on dry weight and yield of maize was reported [3,46], increase in plant height, root weight and total biomass were observed in response to inoculation.

Reduction in plant growth parameters under salt stress condition were recorded. Salinity is one of serious environmental problems that cause reduction in plant growth and yield productivity in irrigated areas of arid and semi-arid regions of the world [37]. The obtained adverse effects of salt stress on the Zea mays L. growth was alleviated by the PGPRs inoculation and decreased with concentration of inoculants.

From the current study the effect of P. fluorescens was more pronounced than that of other two PGPRs. Our results confirm previous findings that inoculated plants grew better and had higher biomass compared to non-inoculated plants under salt stress conditions [38,47-49]. Jagnow [50] found that wheat and maize inoculated with Azotobacter increases both the plant biomass of the above ground (26- 50%) and the yield (19- 30%). Recently, Zafar-ul-Hye et al. [51] found that maize productivity increased under salt stress inoculated with P. syringae and P. fluorescens.

Plants inoculated with PGPRs showed higher protein and carbohydrate content compared to control plants. Thus inoculation with P. fluorescens induced Zea myes L soluble protein and Carbohydrate yields (33.17 and 82.20 mg/gm respectively) compared with control (26.17 and 79.20 mg/gm respectively). On the other hand, under salt stress and without P. fluorescens treatment plant contents of protein and carbohydrate were decreased. The inoculation with P. fluorescens induce synthsis of protein and carbohydrate. Similar effects where also showed by the A. vinelandii and P. putida. Usually the increase of protein yield is related to higher nitrogen fixation activities, this knowledge was confirmed with many authors [52-54]. On the other hand, lipid content was observed to increase under salinity stress and reduced when PGPRs treatments were applied. The results indicate that P. fluorescens increased chlorophyll a and b (7.99 and 3.52 mg respectively) of Zea mays L. compared with the control (6.68 and 3.21 mg respectively) while A. vinelandii and P. putida were less effective on chlorophyll contents. Our results showed the co-inoculation of stress Zea mays L. markedly stimulated chlorophyll a and b content as compared to plants cultivated under salt stress without inoculation especially at low concentration 35 mM Na Cl. The effect of salinity on the synthesis of chlorophyll depended on the specific concentration of NaCl. Nevertheless, the inoculation with PGPRs of current study enhanced the content of chlorophyll revealing a positive effect on growth and plant development. A similar trend has also been observed in other researchers [12,55,56]. In the present investigation, the responses of Zea maysL. plant to high level of salinity were reflected by increased of catalase and peroxidase activities. Mittler [57] stated that antioxidant enzyme activities are usually affected by salinity and used as indicators of oxidative stress in plants. To protect against oxidative stress, plant cells produce both antioxidant enzymes such as peroxidase and catalase, and non-enzymatic antioxidants such as ascorbate, glutathione and tocopherol [58]. The results showed that the exogenous application of PGPRs decreased catalase and peroxidase activities of cultivated Zea mays under salt stress. A similar trend has also been observed in other researchers [59,60].

Salinity causes an imbalance in the ion flux inside plants. The present results showed that during salinity stress, the plants had higher Na+ and lower K+ contents, compared with control plant in root and shoot system (Tables 10 and 11). This is also according to the results [61], salinity increases the uptake of Na+ or decreases the uptake K+ which lead to nutritional imbalances. Accumulation of excess Na+ may cause metabolic disturbance in processes where low Na+ and high K+ are required for optimum plant function [62]. Increased K+ concentration under salinity conditions may help to decrease Na+ uptake and this can indirectly maintain the growth of the plant [63]. Based on the results obtained, applying PGPRs treatment significantly increased the K+ content of maize under salt stress conditions. The higher K+ uptake may demonstrate the role of K+ in salt tolerance. This is also according to the results of [64] where PGPR strains from Azotobacter sp. increased the maize plant growth and potassium and phosphorus intake under different levels of salinity stress. Recently, Sang-Mo et al. [65] found that the PGPR-applied plants had reduced sodium ion concentration; while the potassium was abundantly present as compared to control under stress of Cucumis sativus cultivation. K+ play a key role in plant water stress tolerance and has been found to be the cationic solute responsible for stomata movements in response to changes in bulk leaf water status [66]. There are several reports of lower Na+ concentrations in plants inoculated with PGPR under salinity conditions [63,67,68].


P. fluorescens, A. vinelandii and P. putida had significant impact on maize growth, suggesting that can be applied as biofertilizers for improved maize production under salinity stress. Further greenhouse studies should provide more definitive information about the movement and uptake of macro-elements (Na+ and K+) to plants with the impacts of PGPR–based inoculants.


Part of this study was conducted as part of the Project No. 30-G5-1434: “Modern integrated management of halothermophilic biofertilizers for enhancing agricultural soil fertility in Jazan”, which is supported by the Deanship of Scientific Research, Jazan University, KSA.


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Citation: Abd El-Ghany TM, Masrahi YS, Mohamed A, Abboud A, Alawlaqi MM, et al. (2015) Maize (Zea Mays L.) Growth and Metabolic Dynamics with Plant Growth-Promoting Rhizobacteria under Salt Stresses. J Plant Pathol Microb 6: 305.

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