Isolation and characterization of stem endophytic bacteria from weed plants for enhancing Vanadium tolerance in Brassica napus
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Bacterial endophytes are able to improve the growth of their hosts through a number of different mechanisms such as nutrient uptake regulation, plant hormone production and regulation, siderophore production and phosphate solubilisation. They have also been shown to be able to provide protection to plants against various abiotic stressors, through various means such as oxidative stress protection. The purpose of this study was therefore to isolate endophytic bacteria from the stems of different weeds, to characterize their ability to use some of the most important growth promoting mechanisms including the ability to produce IAA, siderophores and ACC deaminase, what effect they had on the nutrient uptake in their hosts and to determine to what extent they could promote growth in the roots, stems and leaves of Brassica napus plants. In addition to this the endophytes were tested to see to what extent they could protect Brassica napus from the negative effects of vanadium stress and how this affected the plant physiologically in terms of morphology, overall biomass, the plants nutrient profile, lipid peroxidation and levels of cell death. The effect of vanadium stress on the oxidative state of Brassica napus was also monitored by determining the levels of stress induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the corresponding antioxidants that are responsible for regulating these reactive oxygen species. Six different endophytes (P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, P6) were isolated from different weed samples. Each endophyte was found to be able to significantly improve germination and growth in their host plant. Each isolate was able to improve the uptake of certain macronutrients and micronutrients in their respective hosts, while all of the isolates were shown to be capable of producing siderophores and ACC deaminase. One isolate had high levels of IAA production, with the remaining isolates producing small amounts of IAA. All isolates were also unable to solubilize phosphate. The five best performing endophytes (P1, P2, P3, P5, P6) in the preliminary growth trials were used in the follow up vanadium stressed growth trials, with endophyte P4 being left out of the remaining experiments. All of the endophytes showed improvements in growth promotion in comparison to the control, with endophyte treated plants showing both increased growth and biomass in both the non-stressed and vanadium stressed treatments of the vanadium stressed growth trial; however, the leaves of the vanadium stressed plants were significantly smaller than their non-stressed counterparts. When looking at the oxidative state it was found that vanadium stress caused a significant increase in the development of O2 -, H2O2 and •OH in the control and in addition to this it was shown that treatment with endophytes was able to cause a significant decrease in the levels of stress induced H2O2 and •OH in all of the treatments and O2 - for plants treated with endophyte P5. The noted change in the oxidative state of endophyte treated plants was attributed to an increase in the antioxidant activity of these plants, as it was found that endophyte treated plants showed a combination of increased activity for Superoxide dismutase, catalase and ascorbate peroxidase. This study has shown that endophytic bacteria from plant stems can be used to improve crop growth and yield, while simultaneously producing more nutrient dense crops from the same amount of land. It has also determined that endophytes P1, P2, P3, P5 and P6 are able to successfully provide protection to crop plants from the harmful effects of exposure to vanadium stress. This has great potential for improving food security locally and around the world, by allowing those who cannot gain access to large amounts of food to take in more nutrients from the same amount of food. Furthermore, it also presents the opportunity to use endophyte treatments to grow crops on land that has been previously contaminated with certain heavy metals.