Synergism between feremycorrhizal symbiosis and free-living diazotrophs leads to improved growth and nutrition of wheat under nitrogen deficiency conditions

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Abstract

A controlled-environment study was conducted to explore possible synergistic interactions between the feremycorrhizal (FM) fungus Austroboletus occidentalis and soil free-living N-2-fixing bacteria (diazotrophs). Wheat (Triticum aestivum) plants were grown under N deficiency conditions in a field soil without adding microbial inoculum (control: only containing soil indigenous microbes), or inoculated with a consortium containing four free-living diazotroph isolates (diazotrophs treatment), A. occidentalis inoculum (FM treatment), or both diazotrophs and A. occidentalis inoculums (dual treatment). After 7 weeks of growth, significantly greater shoot biomass was observed in plants inoculated with diazotrophs (by 25%), A. occidentalis (by 101%), and combined inoculums (by 106%), compared to the non-inoculated control treatment. All inoculated plants also had higher shoot nutrient contents (including N, P, K, Mg, Zn, Cu, and Mn) than the control treatment. Compared to the control and diazotrophs treatments, significantly greater shoot N content was observed in the FM treatment (i.e., synergism between the FM fungus and soil indigenous diazotrophs). Dually inoculated plants had the highest content of nutrients in shoots (e.g., N, P, K, S, Mg, Zn, Cu, and Mn) and soil total N (13-24% higher than the other treatments), i.e., synergism between the FM fungus and added diazotrophs. Root colonization by soil indigenous arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi declined in all inoculated plants compared to control. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) analysis of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene amplicons revealed that the FM fungus modified the soil microbiome. Our in vitro study indicated that A. occidentalis could not grow on substrates containing lignocellulosic materials or sucrose, but grew on media supplemented with hexoses such as glucose and fructose, indicating that the FM fungus has limited saprotrophic capacity similar to ectomycorrhizal fungi. The results revealed synergistic interactions between A. occidentalis and soil free-living diazotrophs, indicating a potential to boost microbial N-2 fixation for non-legume crops.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2022

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