Discovery of plant probiotics and their usage as biofertilizers and biopesticides for environment-friendly low input sustainable agriculture
Fig.1: Endophytic Bacteria BCh1 found in Chilli inhibit P. capsici
Our capacity to provide adequate plant nutrition and pest control to increase crop yields and reduce land requirements cannot pace with the growing demand of the world’s population using conventional high input-based agriculture. This has led to higher chemical inputs to promote plant nutrition and control pests and diseases. Consequently, this has placed an undue burden on the planet’s ecosystems as well as serious pressure to depleting natural resources used for making agrochemicals. The costs associated with the rapid development of modern fertilizers and pesticides include environmental pollution (Zaidiet al. 2009), unpredicted human health consequences and deleterious effects on wildlife and other non-targeted organisms in the food chain. Considering the multifaceted detrimental effects of Synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides to human health and environment, development of novel bio-rational strategies is badly needed.
Fig.2 Characteristics halo zones generated by bacterial isolates (a. BAr2, b.BThr) in Pikovskaya’s agar medium indicative of phosphate solubilization from TCP
Plant probiotics are considered as one of the potential alternatives to the hazardous synthetic chemicals for low input sustainable green agriculture. They are living microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefits to the host (Lilly and Stillwell 1965; Parker, 1974). The term ‘plant probiotics’ has been used to describe plant-associated elite bacteria that when applied promote the growth of the host plant (Maheshwari, 2012). Probiotic bacteria have been
known to involve in promotion of plant growth and development through various means such as solubilization of insoluble nutrient elements (e.g., phosphate) in soil, fixation of atmospheric nitrogen, suppression of pathogens, acquisition and uptake of major nutrients, improve soil structure and increase plant tolerance to stresses(Pandey and Kumar, 1989; Gloud, 1990; Islam and Hossain, 2012). Although application of probiotics in human health is not new but the concept of managing plant health through the manipulation of probiotic organisms associated with plants has gained interest recently (Picard et al., 2008; Islam et al. 2005; Deora et al. 2006). Success stories of many plant probiotics in commercial agriculture have been reviewed (Islam 2011; Maheshwari 2012; Islam and Hossain 2012). Considering high cost of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and availability of plant associated elite bacteria, research on probiotic bacteria would lead commercially potential formulation for sustainable production and protection of crop in Bangladesh.
The specific objectives of the project are to
- Isolate epiphytic, endophytic and rhizosphere bacteria from major crop plants grown in different agro ecological zones of Bangladesh.
- Screen bacterial isolates using standard bioassay methods to identify plant growth stimulator, phosphate solubilizer, nitrogen fixer and antagonists against major pathogens.
- Molecular identification and characterization of potential plant probiotics using molecular techniques including 16S rRNA gene sequencing.
- Assess performances of plant probiotics in vitro in laboratory and in vivo in pot experiments.
- Elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms of some selected plant probiotics and prepare formulation for practical application in crop field.
- Discovery of a good number of novel probiotic bacteria (identified at molecular level) from the environment of Bangladesh.
- Understanding of underlying molecular mechanisms of selected probiotic bacteria, which will be fundamental for generation of novel strategies for biorational management of plant nutrition and protection of plants from pathogens through further biotechnological approaches.
- Number of publications in the international journals having high impact factor.
- The findings of the project will be utilized for development of commercial formulation of biofertilizers and biopesticides for environment-friendly low input sustainable agriculture and food security of Bangladesh.
Duration: July 2013 to June 2014
Approved Grant: Tk. 3,00,000.00
Funding Agency: Ministry Of Science And Technology, Government Of The People’s Republic Of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka-1000. Tel: 880-2-7164594, Fax-880-2-71619606. www.most.gov.bd
Principle Investigator: Dr. Md. Tofazzal Islam
Department of Biotechnology
Associate Investigator: Dr. Abdul Mannan Akanda
Department of Plant Pathology
Research Associates: Effi Haque