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Keywords:

  • Abiotic stress;
  • heavy metal;
  • oxidative stress;
  • plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB);
  • tolerance mechanism

Abstract

Cadmium (Cd) can enter soil through the use of fertilisers, calcareous, pesticides and industrial and/or domestic effluents. Cd can leach into groundwater and be taken up by plants, potentially leading to reductions in plant growth and yield. In soil, plant roots interact with heavy metal (HM)-tolerant microorganisms that may promote plant growth. Soil microorganisms may also be able to solubilise or mobilise soil metals, thereby acting as bioremediators. A better understanding of the interaction among plants, metals, microorganisms and soil will lead to improved plant tolerance. Two multi-tolerant bacteria from the Burkholderia genus were isolated from Cd-contaminated and Cd-uncontaminated soil of a coffee plantation. In addition to its high tolerance to Cd, the strain SCMS54 produces indole-acetic acid (IAA), solubilises inorganic phosphate and produces siderophores, demonstrating its potential to contribute to beneficial plant–microorganism interactions. When interacting with tomato plants exposed to Cd, the bacterium led to decreases in plant peroxide and chlorosis levels, promoted relative plant growth and decreased the root absorption of Cd, resulting in increased plant tolerance to this highly toxic HM. The results indicated that the inoculation of tomato plants with Burkholderia sp. SCMS54 promotes better growth in plants cultivated in the presence of Cd. This phenomenon appears to be attributed to a mechanism that decreases Cd concentrations in the roots via a beneficial interaction between the bacteria and the plant roots.