Plant growth-promoting bacteria play an essential role in enhancing the physical, chemical and biological characters of soils by facilitating nutrient uptake and water flow, especially under abiotic stress conditions, which are major constrains to agricultural development and production. Drought is one of the most harmful abiotic stress and perhaps the most severe problem facing agricultural sustainability, leading to a severe shortage in crop productivity. Drought affects plant growth by causing hormonal and membrane stability perturbations, nutrient imbalance and physiological disorders. Furthermore, drought causes a remarkable decrease in leaf numbers, relative water content, sugar yield, root yield, chlorophyll a
and ascorbic acid concentrations. However, the concentrations of total phenolic compounds, electrolyte leakage, lipid peroxidation, amounts of proline, and reactive oxygen species are considerably increased because of drought stress. This negative impact of drought can be eliminated by using plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB). Under drought conditions, application of PGPB can improve plant growth by adjusting hormonal balance, maintaining nutrient status and producing plant growth regulators. This role of PGPB positively affects physiological and biochemical characteristics, resulting in increased leaf numbers, sugar yield, relative water content, amounts of photosynthetic pigments and ascorbic acid. Conversely, lipid peroxidation, electrolyte leakage and amounts of proline, total phenolic compounds and reactive oxygen species are decreased under drought in the presence of PGPB. The current review gives an overview on the impact of drought on plants and the pivotal role of PGPB in mitigating the negative effects of drought by enhancing antioxidant defense systems and increasing plant growth and yield to improve sustainable agriculture.
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