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Open AccessArticle

Impact of Coating of Urea with Bacillus-Augmented Zinc Oxide on Wheat Grown under Salinity Stress

1
Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad 38040, Pakistan
2
China Pakistan Economic Corridor Unit/World Trade Organization Cell, Agriculture Department, Government of Punjab, Lahore 54000, Pakistan
3
Department of Soil Science, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur 63100, Pakistan
4
Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, The University of Lahore, Main Campus, Defense Road, Lahore 54000, Pakistan
5
Soil Bacteriology Section, Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute, Ayub Agriculture Research Institute, Faisalabad 38000, Pakistan
6
Department of Botany and Microbiology, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors are equally contributed.
Plants 2020, 9(10), 1375; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9101375
Received: 13 September 2020 / Revised: 8 October 2020 / Accepted: 13 October 2020 / Published: 15 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineral Nutrition and Plant Responses to Environmental Changes)
Zinc (Zn) availability is limited in salt-affected soils due to high soil pH and calcium concentrations causing Zn fixation. The application of synthetic Zn fertilizer is usually discouraged due to the high cost and low Zn use efficiency. However, salt-tolerant Zn-solubilizing bacteria (ZSB) are capable of solubilizing fixed fractions of Zn and improving fertilizer use efficiency. In the current study, a product was formulated by coating urea with bioaugmented zinc oxide (ZnO) to improve wheat productivity under a saline environment. The promising ZSB strain Bacillus sp. AZ6 was used for bioaugmentation on ZnO powder and termed as Bacillus sp. AZ6-augmented ZnO (BAZ). The experiment was conducted in pots by applying urea granules after coating with BAZ, to evaluate its effects on wheat physiology, antioxidant activity, and productivity under saline (100 mM NaCl) and non-saline (0 mM NaCl) conditions. The results revealed that the application of BAZ-coated urea alleviated salt stress through improving the seed germination, plant height, root length, photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate, stomatal conductance, soil plant analysis development (SPAD) value, number of tillers and grains, spike length, spike weight, 1000-grain weight, antioxidant activity (APX, GPX, GST, GR, CAT, and SOD), and NPK contents in the straw and grains of the wheat plants. Moreover, it also enhanced the Zn contents in the shoots and grains of wheat by up to 29.1 and 16.5%, respectively, over absolute control, under saline conditions. The relationships and variation among all the studied morpho-physio and biochemical attributes of wheat were also studied by principal component (PC) and correlation analysis. Hence, the application of such potential products may enhance nutrient availability and Zn uptake in wheat under salt stress. Therefore, the current study suggests the application of BAZ-coated urea for enhancing wheat’s physiology, antioxidant system, nutrient efficiency, and productivity effectively and economically. View Full-Text
Keywords: Bacillus spp.; physiology; salinity; Triticum aestivum; zinc-coated urea; zinc uptake Bacillus spp.; physiology; salinity; Triticum aestivum; zinc-coated urea; zinc uptake
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ain, N.U.; Naveed, M.; Hussain, A.; Mumtaz, M.Z.; Rafique, M.; Bashir, M.A.; Alamri, S.; Siddiqui, M.H. Impact of Coating of Urea with Bacillus-Augmented Zinc Oxide on Wheat Grown under Salinity Stress. Plants 2020, 9, 1375.

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