DEVELOPMENT OF PIGEON PEA INOCULATED WITH RHIZOBIUM ISOLATED FROM COWPEA TRAP HOST PLANTS

ABSTRACT Pigeon pea is an important protein source grown in several tropical and sub-tropical countries, and is considered a multi-purpose plant that is resistant to the conditions of the Brazilian Cerrado. Among the possible uses for cowpea, its use as a green manure, increasing soil nitrogen content through the association with diazotrophic bacteria, generically known as rhizobia, is noteworthy. The present work aimed to evaluate the efficiency of Rhizobium strains isolated from cowpea plants in the development of pigeon peas cultured in Red Latosol. The experiment was conducted in a greenhouse, using a completely randomized design with seven treatments and four replications. Treatments consisted of inoculation with four Rhizobium strains (MT8, MT15, MT16, and MT23) and one commercial inoculant comprising Bradyrhizobium spp. strains BR 2801 and BR 2003. There were two controls, one absolute (without inoculation or nitrogen fertilization) and the other with nitrogen fertilization. Each experimental plot consisted of an 8-dm3 vase containing three plants. Analyzed variables included plant height, SPAD index, number and dry weight of nodules, and shoot and root dry masses. Pigeon peas responded significantly to inoculation treatment, since all the plants inoculated with Rhizobium strains isolated from cowpea strains showed results similar to plants in the nitrogen control and commercial inoculant treatments. This demonstrates a favorable plant-bacteria interaction, which can be utilized as an alternative nitrogen source for pigeon peas.