, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 449-457
Date: 05 Aug 2011

Enhanced biomass and steviol glycosides in Stevia rebaudiana treated with phosphate-solubilizing bacteria and rock phosphate

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Abstract

Biofertilizers offer alternative means to promoting cultivation of medicinal plants less dependent on chemical fertilizers. Present study was aimed at evaluating the potential of phosphate-solubilizing bacteria (PSB) Burkholderia gladioli MTCC 10216, B. gladioli MTCC 10217, Enterobacter aerogenes MTCC 10208 and Serratia marcescens MTCC 10238 for utilizing Mussoorie rock phosphate (MRP) to enhance plant growth, and stevioside (ST) and rebaudioside-A (R-A) contents of Stevia rebaudiana. The solubilization of MRP by PSB strains varied from 1.4 to 15.2 μg ml−1, with the highest solubilization by Enterobacter aerogenes 10208. The PSB treatment increased the growth and ST and R-A contents of plants. Plant growth and stevioside contents were more pronounced with plants treated with a mixture of strains and grown in MRP amended soil compared to the unamended soil. The increment in shoot length (47.8%), root length (17.4%), leaf dry weight (164%), stem dry weight (116%), total shoot biomass (136%) resulted in enhanced productivity of ST (291%) and R-A (575%) in plants inoculated with mixture of PSB as compared to the uninoculated plants. The soils of PSB treated plants contained more available P than the soils of uninoculated plants (increase of 86–576%). PSB inoculated plants also recorded higher P content (64–273% increase) compared to uninoculated plants. The PSB strains differed in the extent of rhizosphere colonization, carbon source utilization pattern and whole cell fatty acids methyl esters composition.