Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria for in vitro and ex vitro performance enhancement of Apennines’ Genepì (Artemisia umbelliformis subsp. eriantha), an endangered phytotherapeutic plant

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Apennines genepì (Artemisia umbelliformis Lam. subsp. eriantha), is a high-altitude plant endangered by illegal and indiscriminate harvesting to produce the homonymous liqueur. Even if synthetic seeds represented a valid propagation technique to respond to this threat, this technology still requires methods to improve the low germination and plantlet development rates. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the suitability of the bacterial consortium formed by Azospirillum brasilense, Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus, Burkholderia ambifaria, and Herbaspirillum seropedicae, as an enrichment agent of Apennines Genepì synthetic seeds. To evaluate the effectiveness as an improving agent, the consortium was incorporated in the synthetic seeds, compared to a control, and followed until ex vitro cultivations. Plants were evaluated for their growth and development parameters, total phenolic and flavonoid contents, antioxidant properties, polyphenolic compounds concentrations, and volatile fractions. The results demonstrated that the investigated consortium is a good candidate as an enrichment agent in synthetic seed technology. The rhizobacterial presence induced an improved response in plant propagation and the acclimatization process. Plant quality was also enhanced, with an increased accumulation of plant secondary metabolites and higher antioxidant capacity. The investigated bacterial consortium is a good candidate as an enrichment agent in synthetic seed technology. Plant clones can be translocated for species conservation and also commercialized to reduce the illegal and undiscerning collections.

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We are thankful for the kind collaboration of Prof. Paola Pittia (HPLC-DAD analyses), and Dr. Antonella Ricci (GC-MS analyses) from the Faculty of Bioscience and Technologies for Food, Agriculture and Environment, University of Teramo. We thank Gran Sasso Monti della Laga National Park for providing permission to collect natural seeds.

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Correspondence to Loretta Pace.

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Editor: Barbara Reed

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Supplementary material consists of Table S1, Polyphenolic compounds investigated by means of HPLC-DAD characterization, and related identification and validation parameters. (DOC 50 kb)

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Pace, L., Pellegrini, M., Palmieri, S. et al. Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria for in vitro and ex vitro performance enhancement of Apennines’ Genepì (Artemisia umbelliformis subsp. eriantha), an endangered phytotherapeutic plant. In Vitro Cell.Dev.Biol.-Plant (2020).

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  • In vitro propagation
  • Synthetic seeds
  • Rhizobacterial plant growth promotion
  • Polyphenols
  • Volatile compounds
  • Antioxidants