Polar Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 10, pp 1973–1982 | Cite as

Antarctic rhizobacteria improve salt tolerance and physiological performance of the Antarctic vascular plants

  • Jorge Gallardo-Cerda
  • Juana Levihuan
  • Paris Lavín
  • Romulo Oses
  • Cristian Atala
  • Cristian Torres-Díaz
  • Marely Cuba-Díaz
  • Andrea Barrera
  • Marco A. Molina-Montenegro
Original Paper


The two native Antarctic vascular plants, Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis, are mostly restricted to coastal habitats where they are often exposed to sea spray with high levels of salinity. Most of the studies regarding the ability of C. quitensis and D. antarctica to cope with abiotic stress have been focused on their physiological adaptations to tolerate cold stress, but little is known about their tolerance to salinity. We investigated whether rhizospheric bacteria associated to D. antarctica and C. quitensis improve the ability of Antarctic plants to tolerate salt stress. Salt tolerance was assayed in rhizospheric bacteria, and also their effects on the ecophysiological performance (photochemical efficiency of PSII, growth, and survival) of both plants were assessed under salt stress. A total of eight bacterial rhizospheric strains capable of growing at 4 °C were isolated. The strains isolated from D. antarctica showed higher levels of salt tolerance than those strains isolated from C. quitensis. The ecophysiological performance of C. quitensis and D. antarctica was significantly increased when plants were inoculated with rhizospheric bacteria. Our results suggest that rhizospheric bacteria improve the ability of both plants to tolerate salinity stress with positive effects on the adaptation and survival of vascular plants to current conditions in Antarctic ecosystem.


Salt tolerance Antarctica Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria Colobanthus quitensis Deschampsia antarctica 



We acknowledge the financial and logistic support of the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH Projects: RT-14-08 and RT-11-13. This study was supported by the FONDECYT 3160333 project. This article contributes to the SCAR biological research programs: “Antarctic Thresholds—Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation” (AnT-ERA) and “State of the Antarctic Ecosystem” (Ant-Eco). The funding was provided by CONICYT (Grant Number: PII20150126).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jorge Gallardo-Cerda
    • 1
  • Juana Levihuan
    • 2
  • Paris Lavín
    • 3
  • Romulo Oses
    • 4
  • Cristian Atala
    • 5
  • Cristian Torres-Díaz
    • 6
  • Marely Cuba-Díaz
    • 7
  • Andrea Barrera
    • 1
  • Marco A. Molina-Montenegro
    • 1
    • 8
  1. 1.Centro de Estudios en Ecología Molecular y Funcional, Instituto de Ciencias BiológicasUniversidad de TalcaTalcaChile
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Biorrecursos AntárticosInstituto Antártico Chileno (INACH)Punta ArenasChile
  3. 3.Laboratorio de Complejidad Microbiana y Ecología FuncionalUniversidad de AntofagastaAntofagastaChile
  4. 4.Centro Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Sustentable de Atacama (CRIDESAT). Av. Copayapu n° 485Universidad de AtacamaCopiapóChile
  5. 5.Laboratorio de Anatomía y Ecología Funcional de Plantas (AEF), Instituto de Biología, Facultad de CienciasPontificia Universidad Católica de ValparaísoValparaísoChile
  6. 6.Grupo de Biodiversidad y Cambio Global (BCG), Departamento de Ciencias BásicasUniversidad del Bío-BíoChillanChile
  7. 7.Departamento de Ciencias y Tecnología Vegetal, Campus Los ÁngelesUniversidad de ConcepciónLos ÁngelesChile
  8. 8.Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA), Facultad de Ciencias del MarUniversidad Católica del NorteCoquimboChile

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