The effect of Penicillium fungi on plant growth and phosphorus mobilization in neutral to alkaline soils from southern Australia

Can J Microbiol. 2007 Jan;53(1):106-15. doi: 10.1139/w06-109.


The phosphate solubilizing fungi Penicillium radicum, Penicillium bilaiae (strain RS7B-SD1), and an unidentified Penicillium sp. designated strain KC6-W2 were tested for their ability to increase the growth and phosphorus (P) nutrition of wheat, medic, and lentil in three soils of neutral to alkaline pH reaction. The strongest plant growth promoting (PGP) strain was Penicillium sp. KC6-W2, which stimulated significant increases in shoot growth and dry mass in seven of the nine experiments conducted. Levels of PGP by Penicillium sp. KC6-W2 ranged from 6.6% to 19% and were associated with increased uptake of P to the shoot. The PGP properties of Penicillium sp. KC6-W2 were evident on each of the three different plant species and soil types, a level of reliability not observed in other strains tested. Inoculation of seed with P. radicum increased lentil growth by 5.5% (P < 0.05) in soil from Tarlee but did not affect plant growth in the eight other experiments. Inoculation of plant seed with P. bilaiae RS7B-SD1 resulted in significant PGP in two of the nine experiments conducted. However, when significant, stimulation of PGP by P. bilaiae RS7B-SD1 was strong and resulted in increases in medic dry matter (19%) and lentil shoot dry matter (15%). A soil microcosm experiment investigated the effect of Penicillium fungi on cycling of soil P. Penicillium bilaiae RS7B-SD1 was the only fungus to significantly increase HCO3-extractable P (23% increase; P < 0.05). Production of phosphatase enzymes was not associated with increased HCO3-extractable P. Addition of carbon in the form of ryegrass seed significantly increased microbial respiration and movement of P to the microbial biomass (P < 0.05), but these parameters were irrespective of Penicillium treatment. This work has established the potential for use of Penicillium inoculants to increase plant growth on alkaline soils in Australia. The role of Penicillium fungi in plant P uptake and soil P cycling requires further exploration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Crops, Agricultural / growth & development*
  • Crops, Agricultural / microbiology
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lens Plant / growth & development
  • Lens Plant / microbiology
  • Medicago sativa / growth & development
  • Medicago sativa / microbiology
  • Penicillium / metabolism*
  • Phosphorus / metabolism*
  • Rhizobiaceae / metabolism
  • Seeds / microbiology*
  • Soil / analysis
  • Soil Microbiology*
  • Triticum / growth & development
  • Triticum / microbiology


  • Soil
  • Phosphorus