Priming maize seeds with cyanobacteria enhances seed vigour and plant growth in elite maize inbreds

3 Biotech. 2020 Apr;10(4):154. doi: 10.1007/s13205-020-2141-6. Epub 2020 Mar 3.


Biofilm formation of a nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium Anabaena torulosa with a beneficial fungus Trichoderma viride (An-Tr) was examined under laboratory conditions. A gradual enhancement in growth over A. torulosa alone was recorded in the biofilm, with 15-20% higher values in nitrogen fixation, IAA and exopolysaccharide production illustrating the synergism among the partners in the biofilm. To investigate the role of such biofilms in priming seed attributes, mesocosm studies using primed seeds of two maize inbred lines (V6, V7) were undertaken. Beneficial effects of biofilm (An-Tr) were recorded, as compared to uninoculated treatment and cyanobacterial consortium (Anabaena-Nostoc; BF 1-4) at both stages (7 and 21 DAS, days after sowing) with a significant increase of more than 20% in seedling attributes, along with 5-15% increment in seed enzyme activities. More than three- to fivefold higher values in nitrogen fixation and C-N mobilizing enzyme activities, and significant increases in leaf chlorophyll, proteins and PEP carboxylase activity were observed with V7-An-Tr biofilm. Cyanobacterial inoculation brought about distinct changes in the soil phospholipid fatty acid profiles (PLFA); particularly, significant changes in those representing eukaryotes and anaerobic bacteria. Principal component analyses illustrated the significant role of dehydrogenase activity and microbial biomass carbon and distinct elicited effects on soil microbial communities, as evidenced by the PLFA. This investigation highlighted the promise of cyanobacteria as valuable priming options to improve mobilization of nutrients at seed stage, modulating the abundance and activities of various soil microbial communities, thereby, enhanced plant growth and vigour of maize plants.

Keywords: Biofilms; Cyanobacteria; Maize; Nitrogen; PLFA; Rhizosphere community.