Plant and Soil

, Volume 370, Issue 1–2, pp 317–332 | Cite as

Nostoc, Microcoleus and Leptolyngbya inoculums are detrimental to the growth of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) under salt stress

  • William S. Cuddy
  • Brett A. Summerell
  • Michelle M. Gehringer
  • Brett A. Neilan
Regular Article


Background and aims

This study investigated the effect of cyanobacterial inoculants on salt tolerance in wheat.


Unicyanobacterial crusts of Nostoc, Leptolyngbya and Microcoleus were established in sand pots. Salt stress was targeted at 6 and 13 dS m−1, corresponding to the wheat salt tolerance and 50 % yield reduction thresholds, respectively. Germinated wheat seeds were planted and grown for 14 (0 and 6 dS m−1) and 21 (13 dS m−1) days by which time seedlings had five emergent leaves. The effects of cyanobacterial inoculation and salinity on wheat growth were quantified using chlorophyll fluorescence, inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry and biomass measurements.


Chlorophyll fluorescence was negatively affected by soil salinity and no change was observed in inoculated wheat. Effective photochemical efficiency correlated with a large range of plant nutrient concentrations primarily in plant roots. Inoculation negatively affected wheat biomass and nutrient concentrations at all salinities, though the effects were fewer as salinity increased.


The most likely explanation of these results is the sorption of nutrients to cyanobacterial extracellular polymeric substances, making them unavailable for plant uptake. These results suggest that cyanobacterial inoculation may not be appropriate for establishing wheat in saline soils but that cyanobacteria could be very useful for stabilising soils.


Cyanobacteria Nostoc Microcoleus Biological soil crust Wheat Salinity 



We thank Pacific Seeds and Agrigrain Limited for providing seeds of Triticum aestivum L. ‘EGA Gregory’. We thank Dr. Murray Badger and Dr. Britta Forster of the Australian National University for assistance with Pulse Amplitude Modulation Fluorometry. A scholarship for W.S.C. was provided by the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Australia. The other authors are funded by the Australian Research Council, the Australian Centre for Astrobiology and the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney, Australia.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NSW Department of Primary IndustriesElizabeth Macarthur Agricultural InstituteMenangleAustralia
  2. 2.School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain TrustSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Plant Ecology and SystematicsTechnical University of KaiserslauternKaiserslauternGermany

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