To mitigate environmental stresses, use of aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC)-deaminase containing plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) as agricultural inputs for improved crop production is required. A total of 47 bacterial isolates from different rhizospheric soils of chickpea from Punjab were biochemically characterized and found to be representatives of genus Bacillus (25) and Pseudomonas (22). Ten (10) of the isolates were able to utilize ACC as a sole source of nitrogen, maximum growth (in terms of optical density λ600) being recorded with Bacillus isolate 23-B (0.463) followed by Pseudomonas 6-P (0.317). Three isolates were P-solubilizers and their relative P-solubilization efficiency ranged from 14.6 to 21.6 mg/100 ml culture broth. All the isolates produced Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) (4.4-22.8 µg/ml). Two PGPR’s 23-B and 6-P alone and in combination with recommended (for Punjab state) Mesorhizobium ciceris, were evaluated for water stress mitigation and plant growth promotion under axenic conditions on Cicer arietinum varieties (Kabuli L-552 and Desi GPF-2). Both the rhizobacteria significantly improved germination, root and shoot length and fresh weight of chickpea seedlings under osmotic potential of up to 0.4 MPa over uninoculated control. Proline content was considerably higher in PGPR treated varieties of chickpea under water stress. Co-inoculation of 23-B with Mesorhizobium enhanced all growth parameters under water stress.
Key words: Aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC)-deaminase, axenic, chickpea, polyethylene glycol (PEG), proline.
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