Presenter: Scott Menicos
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Jones
Proposal Type: MS Proposal
Title of Presentation: The Use of Novel Microbial Inoculums for Plant Growth Promotion in Greenhouse Bedding Plants
ABSTRACT: The commercial floriculture industry relies heavily on chemical inputs for the production of containerized ornamental plants. These inputs include petroleum derived fertilizers, pesticides, and growth regulators. In recent years, there has been a push to decrease the amount of chemical inputs used in the floriculture industry to lessen environmental impact and decrease crop loss. We propose the use of novel plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) in these production systems to achieve these goals. PGPR stimulate plant growth through phytohormone manipulation and enhancement of nutrient uptake. PGPR also act as biocontrol agents, antagonizing plant pathogens. Several novel strains of PGPR have been isolated and characterized through research at the OARDC. Some of these novel bacterial strains contain the 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxolate (ACC) deaminase gene. ACC deaminase degrades the ethylene precursor, ACC, which leads to a reduction in plant ethylene levels. Ethylene is involved in plant stress responses, including flower senescence and abscission. We propose to study the use of novel microbial inoculums in growth promotion capacity in several greenhouse bedding plants with varying levels of ethylene sensitivity. The efficacy of our novel bacterial strains as biocontrol agents against the foliar pathogen, Botrytis, will also be examined. Additionally, we will investigate the effect of novel microbial inoculation on abiotic stress tolerance in regards to ethylene accumulation associated with the postproduction environment. The proposed research will be instrumental in the development of novel bacterial inoculums and the elucidation of the underlying mechanisms of plant growth promotion in regards to ethylene.