N2-Fixation and Seedling Growth Promotion of Lodgepole Pine by Endophytic Paenibacillus polymyxa
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We inoculated lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia (Dougl.) Engelm.) with Paenibacillus polymyxa P2b-2R, a diazotrophic bacterium previously isolated from internal stem tissue of a naturally regenerating pine seedling to evaluate biological nitrogen fixation and seedling growth promotion by this microorganism. Seedlings generated from pine seed inoculated with strain P2b-2R were grown for up to 13 months in a N-limited soil mix containing 0.7 mM available N labeled as Ca(15NO3)2 to facilitate detection of N2-fixation. Strain P2b-2R developed a persistent endophytic population comprising 102–106 cfu g−1 plant tissue inside pine roots, stems, and needles during the experiment. At the end of the growth period, P2b-2R had reduced seedling mortality by 14 % and 15N foliar N abundance 79 % and doubled foliar N concentration and seedling biomass compared to controls. Our results suggest that N2-fixation by P. polymyxa enhanced growth of pine seedlings and support the hypothesis that plant-associated diazotrophs capable of endophytic colonization can satisfy a significant proportion of the N required by tree seedlings growing under N-limited conditions.
KeywordsBiological Nitrogen Fixation Rifamycin Paenibacillus Polymyxa Endophytic Colonization Sterile Phosphate Buffer
Funding for this study was provided by an NSERC CGSD3 and a BC Min. Adv. Ed. PLGSF to RA and an NSERC Discovery Grant to CPC.
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