Plant growth promoting bacteria in agriculture: Two sides of a coin

Wusirika Ramakrishna, Radheshyam Yadav, Kefeng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

151 Citations (Scopus)


Plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB) provide multiple benefits in agriculture by enhancing crop productivity and nutrient content and suppressing the growth of pathogens. Development of beneficial plant-microbe interactions based on genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomic data of both PGPB and host will lead to optimized microbial inoculants for enhancing crop yield and nutrient content. PGPB are promoted as a green technology which will reduce the use of chemical fertilizers thereby improving soil health. Although a significant increase in the use of PGPB in agriculture was observed in the last two decades, there is a dearth of long-term studies addressing the effects of PGPB on existing microbial community structure. It is likely that most or all PGPB are resistant to common antibiotics used to treat human diseases. Antibiotic resistance of PGPB may be due to the presence of antibiotic resistance genes and intrinsic resistance due to the presence of efflux pumps. The biological significance of resistance to antibiotics and metals and their relation to plant growth promoting activity, if any, is not known. The consequences of harboring antibiotic resistance may be negative if the trait is transferred to other soil or environmental bacteria. Strategies to develop PGPB strains with useful traits of plant growth promotion but without resistance to common antibiotics used by humans, would enhance agricultural productivity without the negative effects on the environment. Alternately, harboring antibiotic resistance may be positive if it is due to intrinsic resistance involving proteins which also have other functions. Antibiotic resistance of PGPB may be an essential trait if it is related to their plant growth promoting activity. Overall, there is a need to conduct large-scale screening of PGPB for antibiotic resistance and long-term studies to see the effect of the introduction of biofertilizers on native soil microbial community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-18
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotics resistance
  • Microbial community
  • Omics
  • Plant growth promoting bacteria


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