Phosphate solubilizing bacteria

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Phosphate solubilizing bacteria cultured in petri dish. The zone of n clearance can be clearly seen.

Phosphate solubilizing bacteria (PSB) are beneficial bacteria capable of solubilizing inorganic phosphorus from insoluble compounds.[1] P-solubilization ability of rhizosphere microorganisms is considered to be one of the most important traits associated with plant phosphate nutrition. It is generally accepted that the mechanism of mineral phosphate solubilization by PSB strains is associated with the release of low molecular weight organic acids, through which their hydroxyl and carboxyl groups chelate the cations bound to phosphate, thereby converting it into soluble forms. PSB have been introduced to the Agricultural community as phosphate Biofertilizer. Phosphorus (P) is one of the major essential macronutrients for plants and is applied to soil in the form of phosphate fertilizers. However, a large portion of soluble inorganic phosphate which is applied to the soil as chemical fertilizer is immobilized rapidly and becomes unavailable to plants.[2] Currently, the main purpose in managing soil phosphorus is to optimize crop production and minimize P loss from soils. PSB have attracted the attention of agriculturists as soil inoculums to improve the plant growth and yield. When PSB is used with rock phosphate, it can save about 50% of the crop requirement of phosphatic fertilizer.[citation needed] The use of PSB as inoculants increases P uptake by plants. Simple inoculation of seeds with PSB gives crop yield responses equivalent to 30 kg P2O5 /ha or 50 percent of the need for phosphatic fertilizers. Alternatively, PSB can be applied through fertigation or in hydroponic operations. Many different strains of these bacteria have been identified as PSB, including Pantoea agglomerans (P5), Microbacterium laevaniformans (P7) and Pseudomonas putida (P13) strains are highly efficient insoluble phosphate solubilizers. Recently, researchers at Colorado State University demonstrated that a consortia of four bacteria (sold commercially as Mammoth P) synergistically solubilize phosphorus at a much faster rate than any single strain alone.[3]

Additionally, phosphate (P) compounds are capable of immobilizing heavy metals, especially Pb, in contaminated environments through phosphate-heavy metal precipitation. However, most P compounds are not readily soluble in soils so it is not readily used for metal immobilization. Phosphate solubilizing bacteria (PSB) have the potential to enhance phosphate-induced immobilization of metals to remediate contaminated soil. However, there is a limit on the amount of phosphate which can be added to the environment due to the issue of eutrophication.[4]


  1. ^ Y.P. Chen; P.D. Rekha; A.B. Arun; F.T. Shen; W.-A. Lai; C.C. Young (2006). "Phosphate solubilizing bacteria from subtropical soil and their tricalcium phosphate solubilizing abilities". Applied Soil Ecology. 34 (1): 33–41. doi:10.1016/j.apsoil.2005.12.002.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ Mohammad Ali Malboobi; Parviz Owlia; Mandana Behbahani; Elaheh Sarokhani; Sara Moradi; Bagher Yakhchali; Ali Deljou; Kambiz Morabbi Heravi (2009). "Solubilization of organic and inorganic phosphates by three highly efficient soil bacterial isolates". World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. 25 (8): 1471–1477. doi:10.1007/s11274-009-0037-z. 
  3. ^ Baas, Peter; Bell, Colin; Mancini, Lauren M.; Lee, Melanie N.; Conant, Richard T.; Wallenstein, Matthew D. (2016-06-14). "Phosphorus mobilizing consortium Mammoth P™enhances plant growth". PeerJ. 4. doi:10.7717/peerj.2121. ISSN 2167-8359. PMC 4911952Freely accessible. PMID 27326379. 
  4. ^ Park, J. H., Bolan, N., Megharaj, M., & Naidu, R. (2011). Isolation of phosphate solubilizing bacteria and their potential for lead immobilization in soil. Journal of hazardous materials, 185(2), 829-836.