Arsenite-oxidizing bacteria exhibiting plant growth promoting (PGP) traits can have the advantages of reducing As-uptake by rice and promoting plant growth in As-stressed soil. A gram-positive bacterium Bacillus flexus ASO-6 resistant to high levels of As (32 and 280mM for arsenite and arsenate, respectively) and exhibiting elevated rates of As(III) oxidation (Vmax=1.34μMmin-110-7 cell) was isolated from rhizosphere of rice. The presence of aoxB gene and exhibition of As(III)-oxidase enzyme activity of this strain was observed. The ability of the strain to produce siderophore, IAA, ACC-deaminase and to solubilize phosphate was verified. The rice seed treated with the strain exhibited significantly improved seed germination and seedling vigor compared with the un-inoculated seeds. The bacterial inoculation significantly increased root biomass, straw yield, grain yield, chlorophyll and carotenoid in the rice plant. Moreover, As uptake from root to shoot and As accumulation in straw and grain decreased significantly as a result of the bacterial inoculation. Noteworthy, the inoculation effect is more prominent in non-flooded soil than it is in flooded soil. Owing to its wide action spectrum, this As(III)-oxidizing PGPB could serve as a potential bio-inoculant for mitigation of As in paddies and sustainable rice production in As-contaminated areas.
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