Exopolysaccharide-producing bacterial cultures of Bacillus cereus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in soil augment water retention and maize growth

Mohammad Naseem, Arshad Nawaz Chaudhry, Ghulam Jilani, Tajwar Alam, Farah Naz, Riaz Ullah, Muhammad Zahoor, Shah Zaman, Sohail

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Land productivity in arid and hot climate regions is constrained by water scarcity due to low rainfall and organic matter, which limit both soil-water retention and crop yields. Main objective of this research was to explore the potential of exopolysaccharide (EPS) producing bacteria screened from different soils for enhancing soil-water retention, phosphorus solubilization and maize growth. Twelve soil samples were drawn from diverse ecologies (sub-humid and arid) to isolate EPS-producing bacteria (EPB), and cultured on LB and Pikovskaya media. Nine bacterial strains were found to have EPS production characteristic; among from them, 2 most efficient EPB strains were selected and characterized through morphological, biochemical and molecular standard procedures of bacterial identification. These potent EPB-strains were characterized as Pseudomonas aeruginosa EPB9 and Bacillus cereus EPB17. Broth cultures of 2 and 10 days old (2d and 10d) both EPB strains were used as soil inoculant to grow maize in growth chamber under triplicated factorial CRD. Treatments were: Control, LB broth (without inoculum), EPB9-2d, EPB9-10d, EPB17-2d, and EPB17-10d inoculation in both non-stressed and drought-stressed soils. Experiment lasted for 24 days, when soil and plant leaf water contents, plant growth attributes and antioxidant enzymes were measured. Inoculation of both EPB strains significantly enhanced maize growth and soil-water retained until harvesting stage. Higher water contents in soil and plant leaves, as well as fresh shoot and root weight were with EPB9-10d. Plant leaf area and shoot length were greater with EPB17-10d inoculation. Bacterial EPS also caused higher protein and sugar, and lower proline contents in plants. Antioxidant enzymes (SOD, POD and CAT) remained lower with both EPB treatments due to reduced drought stress than in control. It was evident that efficient EPB strains could survive even under osmotic stress, and retain more soil-water for longer time. Further, antioxidant enzymes and EPS interact together for drought tolerance and growth promotion of plants. Therefore, study concludes that under limited water conditions, soil inoculation with bacterial cultures having the characteristics of greater EPS production and antioxidative enzyme system bears the potential of improving land productivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere26104
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial inoculation
  • Drought tolerance
  • Phosphorus-solubilization
  • Soil aggregation
  • Soil protective cover
  • Soil-water conservation


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