Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria promote plant size inequality

Alan Gange, Kiran Gadhave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The uniformity of crop yield is extremely important for consumers and of as much relevance to the grower as overall yield. However, size inequality within a plant population is rarely measured and has never before been considered in relation to the use of beneficial microbes for yield enhancement.
For the first time, we show that addition of soil bacteria to calabrese plants significantly increased size inequality. These effects were usually more apparent in above-ground biomass. This was caused by some (but not all) plants growing very large when inoculated with bacteria, while control plants were mostly small. We suggest that the main reason is the incompatibility of the inoculated bacteria with those already present in the rhizosphere. In some cases the inoculum matched the indigenous community, providing a benefit to plant growth, while often it did not and plants remained relatively small.
We conclude that analyses of size inequality should be an integral part of experiments using microbial soil amendments. These analyses can help to inform the production of more effective microbial products and to ensure that the integration of beneficial microbes into sustainable production systems does not impair uniformity in yield.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13828
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date14 Sept 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Sept 2018

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