Influence of Nitrogen Sources and Plant Growth-Promoting Rhizobacteria Inoculation on Growth, Crude Fiber and Nutrient Uptake in Squash (<i>Cucurbita moschata</i> Duchesne ex Poir.) Plants
Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR, B) have immense potential application in sustainable agriculture as ecofriendly biofertilizers and biopesticides. In this study, the effects of three nitrogen (N) sources (NO3-, NH4+ and NO3NH4) and PGPR on growth, crude fiber and nutrient uptake were investigated in squash plants. Some growth parameters [root dry weight (RDW), shoot dry weight (SDW), total plant dry weight (PDW), number of leaves (NL), shoot length (SL), stem diameter (SD) and number of ramifications (NR)], crude fiber (cellulose content) and nutrient uptake (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Na, Fe, Cu, Mn and Zn) were determined. Application of NO3-, NH4+ or NO3NH4 singly or in combination with PGPR inoculation led to a significant increase in RDW, SDW, PDW, NL, SL, SD and NR. Na, Cu and Zn contents, on the contrary, decreased in inoculated treated plants while no significant differences were recorded in cellulose contents (CE) of leaves except in plants fed with NO3-. The leaf CE content ranged from 12.58 to 13.67%. The plants supplied with NO3+B, NH4+B and NO3NH4+B showed significantly higher plant biomass and accumulation of N, P, K and Mn concentrations in leaves compared to all other treatments. These results suggest that specific combinations of PGPR with NO3-, NH4+ or NO3NH4 fertilizers can be considered as efficient alternative biofertilizers to improve significantly the squash growth and nutrient uptake.
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