There are fewer reports on plant growth promoting (PGP) bacteria living in nodules as helper to tolerance to abiotic stress such as salinity and drought. The study was conducted to isolate rhizobial and non-rhizobial drought and salinity tolerant bacteria from the surface sterilized root nodules of alfalfa, grown in saline soils, and evaluate the effects of effective isolates on plant growth under salt stress. Based on drought and salinity tolerance of bacterial isolates and having multiple PGP traits, two non-rhizobial endophytic isolates and one rhizobial endophytic isolate were selected for further identification and characterization. Based on partial sequences of 16 S rRNA genes, non-rhizobial isolates and rhizobial isolate were closely related to Klebsiella sp., Kosakonia cowanii, and Sinorhizobium meliloti, respectively. None of the two non-rhizobial strains were able to form nodules on alfalfa roots under greenhouse and in vitro conditions. Co-inoculation of alfalfa plant with Klebsiella sp. A36, K. cowanii A37, and rhizobial strain S. meliloti ARh29 had a positive effect on plant growth indices under salinity stress. In addition, the single inoculation of non-rhizobial strains without rhizobial strain resulted in an increase in alfalfa growth indices compared to the plants non-inoculated and the ones inoculated with S. meliloti ARh29 alone under salinity stress, indicating that nodule non-rhizobial strains have PGP potentials and may be a promising way for improving effectiveness of Rhizobium bio-fertilizers in salt-affected soils.
- Klebsiella sp.
- Kosakonia cowanii
- Nodule salinity and drought tolerant bacteria