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Li R.-X.,Nanjing Agricultural University | Cai F.,Nanjing Agricultural University | Cai F.,National Engineering Research Center for Organic based Fertilizers | Pang G.,National Engineering Research Center for Organic based Fertilizers | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Trichoderma harzianum strain SQR-T037 is a biocontrol agent that has been shown to enhance the uptake of nutrients (macro- and microelements) by plants in fields. The objective of this study was to investigate the contribution of SQR-T037 to P and microelement (Fe, Mn, Cu and Zn) nutrition in tomato plants grown in soil and in hydroponic conditions. Inoculation with SQR-T037 significantly improved the biomass and nutrient uptake of tomato seedlings grown in a nutrient-limiting soil. So we investigated the capability of SQR-T037 to solubilise sparingly soluble minerals in vitro via four known mechanisms: acidification by organic acids, chelation by siderophores, redox by ferric reductase and hydrolysis by phytase. SQR-T037 was able to solubilise phytate, Fe2O3, CuO, and metallic Zn but not Ca3(PO4)2 or MnO2. Organic acids, including lactic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid and succinic acid, were detected by HPLC and LC/MS in two Trichoderma cultures. Additionally, we inoculated tomato seedlings with SQR-T037 using a hydroponic system with specific nutrient deficiencies (i.e., nutrient solutions deficient in P, Fe, Cu or Zn and supplemented with their corresponding solid minerals) to better study the effects of Trichoderma inoculation on plant growth and nutrition. Inoculated seedlings grown in Cu-deficient hydroponic conditions exhibited increases in dry plant biomass (92%) and Cu uptake (42%) relative to control plants. However, we did not observe a significant effect on seedling biomass in plants grown in the Fe- and Zn-deficient hydroponic conditions; by contrast, the biomass decreased by 82% in the P-deficient hydroponic condition. Thus, we demonstrated that Trichoderma SQR-T037 competed for P (phytate) and Zn with tomato seedlings by suppressing root development, releasing phytase and/or chelating minerals. The results of this study suggest that the induction of increased or suppressed plant growth occurs through the direct effect of T. harzianumon root development, in combination with indirect mechanisms, such as mineral solubilisation (including solubilisation via acidification, redox, chelation and hydrolysis). Copyright: © 2015 Li et al.

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