Ammonium excretion, auxin production and effects of maize inoculation with ethylenediamine-resistant mutants of Pseudomonas sp.

ABSTRACT Plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) comprise part of plant microbiome of biotechnological interest due to their potential to decrease the use of agrochemicals in agriculture. Among the commonly found PGPB species, the Pseudomonas genus is known for high competitiveness and efficiency in expressing growth-promotion traits. To increase the contribution of diazotrophic Pseudomonas sp. to the plant nitrogen nutrition, the strain AZM-01 was chemically mutagenized with methyl methanesulfonate (MMS), following the selection for resistance to ethylenediamine (EDA). From the 13 EDA-resistant mutant strains selected, four showed increased the ammonium excretion, with the highest value reaching up to 284% increase as compared to the wild strain, and six strains were found to produce significantly more auxins than the wild strain. Two independent inoculation trials with the wild and EDA-resistant Pseudomonas were performed on maize, with the objective to study the influence of bacteria on seed germination and its potential to promote maize growth under N-limiting condition. In general, Pseudomonas inoculation modified the root architecture of germinating seeds, and increased biomass of maize plants grown under N-limiting conditions. Shoot dry weight of maize was increased by inoculation with several EDA-resistant mutants as compared to the strain AZM-01, with emphasis on the EDA-5 strain which supports biomass accumulation at equivalent amount of plants grown under full N supply. Significant correlations between in vitro and in vivo parameters were found although low coefficient values predominate. The strategy of random mutagenesis was found suitable to develop PGPB strains with higher potential to supply maize plants with nitrogen.