In this work, both culture-dependent and independent approaches were used to identify and isolate endophytic bacteria from roots of the Ni hyperaccumulator Noccaea caerulescens. A total of 17 isolates were cultured from root samples, selected for tolerance to 6 mM Ni and grouped by restriction analysis of 16S rDNA. Bacterial species cultivated from roots belonged to seven genera, Microbacterium, Arthrobacter, Agreia, Bacillus, Sthenotrophomonas, Kocuria and Variovorax. The culture- independent approach confirmed the presence of Microbacterium and Arthrobacter while only other five clones corresponding to different amplified ribosomal DNA restriction patterns were detected. Five selected highly Ni-resistant bacteria showing also plant growth promoting activities, were inoculated into seeds of N. caerulescens, and in vivo microscopic analysis showed rapid root colonisation. Inoculated plants showed increased shoot biomass, root length and root-to-shoot Ni translocation. Root colonisation was also evident, but not effective, in the non-hyperaccumulating Thlaspi perfoliatum. Seed inoculation with selected Ni-resistant endophytic bacteria may represent a powerful tool in phytotechnologies, although transferring it to biomass species still requires further studies and screening.
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