A decline in common bean production and the ineffectiveness of synthetic chemical products in managing plant pathogens has led to exploiting Kenyan soda lakes as an alternative search for biocontrol agents. This study aimed to identify phylogenetically Bacillus spp. from Lake Magadi and their antagonistic activity against Rhizoctonia solani under in vitro and in vivo conditions. The 16 S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) subunit sequences of six bacterial strains isolated from Lake Magadi showed diversity similar to the Bacillus genus; Bacillus velezensis, Bacillus subtilis, and Bacillus pumilus. In vitro, antagonism showed varied mycelium inhibition rates of fungi in the coculture method. Enzymatic assays showed the varied ability of isolates to produce phosphatase, pectinase, chitinase, protease, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), and hydrogen cyanide (HCD). The in vivo assay showed M09 (B. velezensis) with the lowest root mortality and incidence of postemergence wilt. Pre-emergence wilt incidence was recorded as lowest in M10 (B. subtilis). Isolate M10 had the highest phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) for defense enzymes, while polyphenol oxidase (PPO) and peroxidase were recorded as highest in M09. For the phenolic content, M10 recorded the highest phenolic content. In conclusion, Lake Magadi harbors Bacillus spp, which can be used as a potential biocontrol of R. solani.
Keywords: Bacillus spp; Lake Magadi; Rhizoctonia solani Kühn; biocontrol; characterization.
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