Microbial inoculants as plant growth stimulating and soil nutrient availability enhancing options for cucumber under protected cultivation

  • Kaur Simranjit
  • Amrita Kanchan
  • Radha PrasannaEmail author
  • Kunal Ranjan
  • Balasubramanian Ramakrishnan
  • Awani Kumar Singh
  • Yashbir Singh Shivay
Original Paper


Protected cultivation of vegetables is often hampered by declining nutrient availability in soil due to year-around farming, which in turn, leads to poor quality and yields, causing serious concern. Our study aimed towards evaluating the potential of novel biofilm formulations—Anabaena or Trichoderma as matrices with Azotobacter sp. as Anabaena–Azotobacter (An–Az) and Trichoderma-Azotobacter (Tr–Az) or together as Anabaena–Trichoderma (AnTr), on the growth, physiological activities, yield, and changes in the profiles of soil microbial communities in two cultivars (cv. DAPC-6 and cv. Kian) of cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Photosynthetic pigments, evaluated as an index of growth showed two–threefold increase, while elicited activity of defense and antioxidant enzymes was stimulated; this facilitated significant improvement in the plants belonging to the inoculated treatments. Microbial biomass carbon and polysaccharides in soil enhanced by two–threefolds in treatments receiving microbial formulations. Available N in soil increased by 50–90% in An–Az and An–Tr biofilm inoculated treatments, while the availability of P and organic C content of soil improved by 40–60%, over control. PCR-DGGE profiles generated revealed signification modulation of cyanobacterial communities and cultivar-specific differences. Significant enhancement in leaf chlorophyll pigments, soil microbiological parameters and nutrient bio-availabilities along with positive correlation among the analysed parameters, and distinct profiles generated by PCR-DGGE analyses illustrated the promise of these novel inoculants for cucumber.


Antioxidant enzymes: biofilm Cyanobacteria Nutrients Protected cultivation Trichoderma 



We are thankful to the Centre for Protected Cultivation Technology (CPCT), ICAR-IARI, New Delhi, for providing the facilities to conduct the experiment. We gratefully acknowledge the Division of Agronomy and Division of Microbiology, ICAR-IARI, New Delhi for providing necessary facilities for undertaking this study.

Authors contributions

KS was responsible for undertaking the experimental analyses and writing the draft and its final formatting. AK helped in the biochemical and soil microbiological analyses. KR was responsible for the PCR-DGGE analyses. RP and BR developed the concept, coordinated the investigation and refined the manuscript. AKS was responsible for the experimental layout, its maintenance throughout the crop growth period and evaluation of yields. YSS helped in the analyses of soil nutrient parameters.


The study was partly funded by the AMAAS Network Project on Microorganisms, granted by ICAR to RP and the ICAR Extra Mural Research Project, granted to BR.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research work was conducted, without any commercial or financial relationships, which may be construed as potential conflicts of interest. We confirm that no part of this work has been submitted in any other journal and the authors have no conflict of interest. All the authors have consented to the submission of this manuscript. All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article [and its supplementary information files].

Human and animal rights

This study did not involve any human participants nor animal studies.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of MicrobiologyICAR-Indian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Protected Cultivation Technology (CPCT)ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia
  3. 3.Division of AgronomyICAR-Indian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia

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