Diversity and phylogeny of plant growth-promoting bacilli from moderately acidic soil.
The molecular diversity of aerobic endospore-forming bacteria, typically Bacillus and its derived genera, has been investigated in various environments. However, there have been few investigations concerning Bacillus in acidic soils. In this study, the genotypic diversity and phylogenetic relationships among plant growth-promoting (PGP) bacilli isolated from the rice rhizosphere growing in acidic soils of Kerala (pH varying from 6.3 to 6.8) were investigated. For assessing their biocontrol potential and PGP attributes, 115 isolates were randomly selected and 49 isolates that were positive for multiple traits were selected. Metabolic characterization of representative strains, using the Biolog GP2 (Gram Positive) MicroPlate(TM) , revealed a large versatility with respect to carbohydrate utilization. Amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis revealed 13 clusters at 65% similarity level, which consisted of 1-21 strains. 16S rDNA partial sequencing assigned all the isolates, except for one, to the Bacillus genus, with close relatedness to Bacillus humi, B. megaterium, B. drentensis, B. pocheonensis, B. aestuarii, B. arbutinivorans, B. niacini, and Brevibacterium casei. The Bacillus species with different metabolic capabilities, PGP abilities, and genetic diversity found in this study are likely to have ecological relevance.
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