Drought is a major abiotic factor and has drastically reduced crop yield globally, thus damaging the agricultural industry. Drought stress decreases crop productivity by negatively affecting crop morphological, physiological, and biochemical factors. The use of drought tolerant bacteria improves agricultural productivity by counteracting the negative effects of drought stress on crops. In this study, we isolated bacteria from the rhizosphere of broccoli field located in Daehaw-myeon, Republic of Korea. Sixty bacterial isolates were screened for their growth-promoting capacity, in vitro abscisic acid (ABA), and sugar production activities. Among these, bacterial isolates YNA59 was selected based on their plant growth-promoting bacteria traits, ABA, and sugar production activities. Isolate YNA59 highly tolerated oxidative stress, including hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and produces superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activities in the culture broth. YNA59 treatment on broccoli significantly enhanced plant growth attributes, chlorophyll content, and moisture content under drought stress conditions. Under drought stress, the endogenous levels of ABA, jasmonic acid (JA), and salicylic acid (SA) increased; however, inoculation of YNA59 markedly reduced ABA (877 ± 22 ng/g) and JA (169.36 ± 20.74 ng/g) content, while it enhanced SA levels (176.55 ± 9.58 ng/g). Antioxidant analysis showed that the bacterial isolate YNA59 inoculated into broccoli plants contained significantly higher levels of SOD, CAT, and APX, with a decrease in GPX levels. The bacterial isolate YNA59 was therefore identified as Variovorax sp. YNA59. Our current findings suggest that newly isolated drought tolerant rhizospheric Variovorax sp. YNA59 is a useful stress-evading rhizobacterium that improved droughtstress tolerance of broccoli and could be used as a bio-fertilizer under drought conditions.
Keywords: Variovorax sp. YNA59; antioxidant activity; broccoli; drought stress; phytohormones.