Biology and Fertility of Soils vol:36 issue:4 pages:284-297
Under the controlled conditions of the greenhouse and by varying some biotic and abiotic factors, we tried to identify some of the factors critical to obtain successful Azospirillum inoculation. Spring wheat and grain maize were inoculated with different concentrations of the wild type strains A. brasilense Sp245 and A. irakense KBC1, and grown in a substrate with varying concentrations of organic matter (OM) and N fertiliser. The inoculum concentration was one of the factors that influenced most the outcome of an inoculation experiment on wheat, with lower inoculum concentrations (10(5)-10(6) cfu plant(-1)) stimulating root development and plant dry weight and higher inoculum concentrations (10(7)-10(8) cfu plant(-1)) having no effect or sometimes even inhibiting root development. The effect of inoculation was most pronounced at low to intermediate N fertilisation levels, while the OM content of the substrate had no effect. Inoculation was found to affect early plant and root development, plant and root dry weight, grain yield and the N-uptake efficiency of plants. However, inoculation did not change the N concentration in plants or grains. In addition, a difference in the ability of both strains to stimulate plant growth and N uptake of wheat and maize was observed, with A. brasilense Sp245 having most effect on spring wheat and A. irakense KBC1 being more effective on grain maize. The significance of the obtained results for agriculture is discussed.