Penicillium bilaii effects on maize growth and P uptake from soil and localized sewage sludge in a rhizobox experiment

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With P being a non-renewable resource, the use of microbial inoculants and waste products for more efficient and sustainable P use in plant production has been proposed. We investigated the ability of Penicillium bilaii to mobilize P in a low-fertility soil with or without amendment of sewage sludge as additional P source. Maize was grown for 27 days in rhizoboxes enabling studies of root growth in addition to plant and soil parameters. P. bilaii was inoculated either at the seed or the sewage sludge patch. At early growth stages, P. bilaii inoculation of seeds increased maize shoot length. However, at the end of experiment, the effect had ceased. Root growth was increased by seed P. bilaii inoculation alone and in combination with sewage sludge, whereas patch inoculation was less effective. Colonization studies performed at harvest showed that P. bilaii could not be detected in the maize rhizosphere but stayed at the place of inoculation. In sewage sludge patches, the growth of Penicillium strains other than P. bilaii was stimulated; hence, using sewage sludge for combined P resource and carrier of microbial inoculants is discussed. Unexpectedly, the greater root development of seed-inoculated plants did not result in increased plant P uptake and neither did inoculation at the sewage sludge patch. This study raises the question if the soil P status can be too low for a beneficial effect of additional early root growth and thus a beneficial effect of seed inoculation of P. bilaii.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)23-35
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Penicillium bilaii, Phosphorus availability, Phosphorus-solubilising microorganism, Plant growth, Sewage sludge

ID: 174660399