There is much interest in the use of seed-applied bacteria for biocontrol and biofertilization, and several commercial products are available. However, many attempts to use this strategy fail because the seed-applied bacteria do not colonize the rhizosphere. Mechanisms of rhizosphere colonization may involve active bacterial movement or passive transport by percolating water or plant roots. Transport by other soil biota is likely to occur, but this area has not been well studied. We hypothesized that interactions with soil nematodes may enhance colonization. To test this hypothesis, a series of microcosm experiments was carried out using two contrasting soils maintained under well-defined physical conditions where transport by mass water flow could not occur. Seed-applied Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 was capable of rhizosphere colonization at matric potentials of -10 and -40 kPa in soil without nematodes, but colonization levels were substantially increased by the presence of nematodes. Our results suggest that nematodes can have an important role in rhizosphere colonization by bacteria in soil.
- MODIFIED PSEUDOMONAS-FLUORESCENS
- ROOT COLONIZATION
- FEEDING NEMATODES
- NITROGEN MINERALIZATION
- WHEAT RHIZOSPHERE