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A preliminary study of the role of bacterial-fungal co-inoculation on heavy metal phytotoxicity in serpentine soil
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This study was conducted to understand the role of bacterial–fungal interactions on heavy metal uptake by Zea mays plants. A pot experiment was conducted for 90 days with Z. mays in serpentine soil inoculated with a Gram-negative bacterium, fungus (Aspergilllus sp.) and both microbes to determine the effects of inoculation on nickel, manganese, chromium and cobalt concentrations in plant tissue and soil. Soil nutrients and soil enzyme activities were measured to determine the effect of inoculations on soil quality. Inoculation of microorganisms increased shoot and root biomass, and the maximum biomass was in the bacterial–fungal inoculation. This could be due to the solubilisation of phosphate and production of indole acetic acid. Although the combination treatment contributed to an increase in heavy metal uptake in Z. mays plants, the lowest translocation was observed in the combination treatment. Moreover, the soil available nitrogen, available phosphorous and total organic carbon content were increased with the microbial inoculation. Similarly, the soil dehydrogenase activity was higher as a result of microbial inoculation, whereas the highest dehydrogenase activity was reported in the combination inoculation. This study confirms the synergistic effect of bacterial–fungal inoculation as a soil-quality enhancer and as a plant-growth promoter in the presence of heavy metals