Isolation and characterization of PGPR obtained from different arsenic-contaminated soil samples and their effect on photosynthetic characters of maize grown under arsenic stress

Zainab Waheed, Sumera Iqbal, Muhammad Irfan, Khajista Jabeen, Noshin Ilyas, Wahidah H. Al-Qahtani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contamination of the environment due to speedup of anthropogenic activities has become a serious threat to modern humanity. Among the contaminants, the new emerging concern is the heavy metal (HM) contamination in the environment. Because the persistence and harmfulness of heavy metals affect the ecosystem and the health of plants, animals, and humans, they are the most toxic substances in the environment. Among them, Arsenic (As) emerged as major environmental constraint leading to enormous negative effects on the plant, animal, and human health. Even in minute quantity, As is known to cause various critical diseases in humans and toxicity in plants. Research was performed to observe the capability of plant growth–promoting strains of bacteria in enhancing Zea mays (L.) growth in arsenic polluted soil. Total 30 bacterial strains were isolated from the polluted soils, screened for plant growth promotion potential and arsenic tolerance. Eighteen isolates showed resistance to different levels of sodium arsenate (ranging from 0 to 50 mM) in agar plate using LB media. Of 18 isolates, 83.3% produced IAA, methyl red, and hydrogen cyanide; 55.5% exhibited catalase activity; 61.1% showed siderophore production; 88.8% showed phosphate solubilization; and 44.4% showed oxidase, Voges proskauer activity, and KOH solubility. The most efficient isolates SR3, SD5, and MD3 with significant arsenic tolerance and plant growth–promoting (PGP) activity were examined via sequencing of amplified 16S rRNA gene. Isolates of bacteria, i.e., SR3, SD5, and MD3, showing multiple PGP-traits were identified as Bacillus pumilus (NCBI accession number: OR459628), Paenibacillus faecalis (NCBI accession number: OR461560), and Pseudochrobactrum asaccharolyticum (NCBI accession number: OR458922), respectively. Maize seeds treated with these PGPR strains were grown in pots contaminated with 50 ppm and 100 ppm sodium arsenate. Compared to untreated arsenic stressed plants, bacterial inoculation P. asaccharolyticum (MD3) resulted 20.54%, 18.55%, 33.45%, 45.08%, and 48.55% improvement of photosynthetic pigments (carotenoid content, chlorophyll content, stomatal conductance (gs), substomatal CO2, and photosynthetic rate), respectively. Principal component analysis explained that first two components were more than 96% of the variability for each tested parameter. The results indicate that in comparison to other isolates, P. asaccharolyticum isolate can be used as efficient agent for improving maize growth under arsenic polluted soil. Graphical Abstract: (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18656-18671
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Arsenic
  • Indole acetic acid
  • Luria Bertani
  • Phosphate solubilization
  • Plant growth promoting
  • Potassium hydroxide
  • Ribosomal RNA


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