Numerous species of soil bacteria which flourish in the rhizosphere of plants, but which may grow in, on, or around plant tissues, stimulate plant growth by a plethora of mechanisms. These bacteria are collectively known as PGPR (plant growth promoting rhizobacteria). The search for PGPR and investigation of their modes of action are increasing at a rapid pace as efforts are made to exploit them commercially as biofertilizers. After an initial clarification of the term biofertilizers and the nature of associations between PGPR and plants (i.e., endophytic versus rhizospheric), this review focuses on the known, the putative, and the speculative modes-of-action of PGPR. These modes of action include fixing N2, increasing the availability of nutrients in the rhizosphere, positively influencing root growth and morphology, and promoting other beneficial plant–microbe symbioses. The combination of these modes of actions in PGPR is also addressed, as well as the challenges facing the more widespread utilization of PGPR as biofertilizers.
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