Rhizobacteria that associate with plant roots have been found to interact with cereal crops, giving benefits of plant growth promotion and/or protection against pathogens. The plant growth promotion effect, due probably to a combination of nitrogen fixation, mobilisation of nutrients in the soil and excretion of plant hormones, may permit reductions in N and P chemical fertiliser inputs for inoculated plants.
The development and use of rhizobacteria inoculants can therefore contribute to reductions in pollution related to fertiliser inputs, and to boost protein content in cereals, an important quality trait. However, the mechanisms and the most beneficial conditions of plant growth promotion are still unclear, since field and greenhouse studies have to date lacked reproducibility. RHIBAC will study most promising/pre-characterised rhizobacteria identified in previous EU and national research projects in Europe, Brazil and Chile. It will aim to understand the mechanisms of plant growth promotion through experiments with genetically modified rhizobacteria and monitor root colonisation with reporter strains.
The importance of plant genotype and role of root exudates in plant-rhizobacteria interactions will be studied using analytical chemistry and biomonitoring. Due to previous experience of the participants this project is in best placed to obtain reproducible, significant effects of plant growth promotion in wheat in pot trials and in the field, including large-scale demonstrations in different climatic zones. Encapsulation and seed coating will be tested for improving root colonisation and survival of the rhizobacteria in the soil, and compatibility with other plant growth promotion/protection products will be assessed. The project will last four years to permit extended field trials. RHIBAC will be conducted by an international partnership including partners from Chile and Brazil, and participation from agricultural companies, including a SME.<P>
For more information about this project, please visit the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/food_quality/projects/162_en.ht…; target="_blank">European Commission Food Quality and Safety in Europe</a> Web site.