Bradyrhizobium spp. as attenuators of water deficit stress in runner peanut genotypes based on physiological and gene expression responses
The peanut plant has high plasticity and great adaptability to adverse conditions, including drought. To mitigate the negative effects of drought on legumes, nitrogen-fixing microorganisms have been investigated in some plant species, such as soybeans and beans. We analyzed the role Bradyrhizobium strains in peanut genotypes subjected to water deficit by means of plant growth, physiological and gene expression analysis. The research was conducted under greenhouse conditions with the runner peanut genotypes (IAC Runner 886, 2012-33 and 2012-47) and two Bradyrhizobium strains (ESA 123 and SEMIA 6144). After 20 days of germination, the water supply was completely interrupted and gas exchange analysis were carried out using an infrared gas analyzer, up to the 10th day of stress. Leaves were collected for the analysis of proline content and the expression of NCED and ERF8 genes. Analyses of plant height (PH), shoot dry mass (SDM), root dry mass (RDM), number of nodules (NN) and nodule weight (NW) also were performed. The peanut shoots inoculated with the Bradyrhizobium strains obtained the best results. The genotypes inoculated with the ESA 123 strain obtained superior responses compared to the non-stressed treatment inoculated with the same bacteria and the stressed control without bacterial inoculation. In the ESA 123 inoculated treatments, the water stressed plants had higher RDM (28.5% higher, on average), NN (two fold higher), and gene expression (approximately six and three-fold higher for ERF8 and NCED genes, respectively). The increase in the expression of NCED and ERF8 genes, in the three genotypes inoculated with ESA 123, suggests a key role of this inoculant in the activation of metabolic cascades for plant protection under water deficit.