PGPR-Induced Growth Stimulation and Nutrient Acquisition in Maize: Do Root Hairs Matter?

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Here we describe the effects of the well-characterized, commercial plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) strain Pseudomonas sp. DSMZ 13134 (Proradix®) on plant growth, root morphology, and nutrient acquisition of a maize mutant (rth2) with impaired root hair production as compared with the corresponding wild type line, to study the importance of root hairs for the interaction of the PGPR strain with the host plant. The study was conducted in rhizobox culture with a sand–soil mixture and moderate P supply. Root hair development of the mutant was clearly impaired, reflected by slower growth and limited elongation as compared with the wild type line. This defect was compensated by more intense root growth and fine root production of the mutant which was particularly expressed after inoculation with Proradix®. By contrast, PGPR inoculation had no effect on root hair length. The beneficial effects of Proradix® on root growth were reflected in higher shoot contents of the macronutrients P and K. Interestingly, negative effects on shoot accumulation of the micronutrients Zn and Cu were observed. These findings support proposed PGPR effects of this strain but also show limitations that may be explained by additional strain-specific properties. Possible implications of these findings are discussed.

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