Azospirillum inoculation and nitrogen fertilization effect on grain yield and on the diversity of endophytic bacteria in the phyllosphere of rice rainfed crop
We assessed the Azospirillum inoculation and N-fertilization effect on grain yield and on the phyllosphere endophytic diversity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in a rice rainfed crop. We used cultivation-based techniques and cultivation-independent methods involving PCR-16S rRNA and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). In general, we observed that grain yield was improved when inoculated with Azospirillum (depending on the genotype) and/or fertilized with urea. A similar behavior was observed in total N-content in grain and the MPN determination, as the highest values occurred when seeds were inoculated with A. brasilense REC3 (S1) than with A brasilense 13-2C (S2). A positive nitrogenase activity and PCR-nifH amplification suggests that the bacteria associated to inner tissues of rice phyllosphere could have contributed to the different N-contents detected. The bacterial diversity, observed in the number and intensity of DGGE profiles, showed a higher number of bands when total DNA was obtained using only CTAB than with CTAB + PVP. The DGGE profiles revealed great stability in the dominating bands, which presumably represent numerically dominant species. Application of A. brasilense strains as inoculants did not influence the dominant members of the endophytic microbial communities in the phyllosphere, but improved N-content and production of rainfed rice crop. (C) 2008 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.