Finger millet a nutri-cereal with potential health benefits to humans is highly vulnerable to the blast disease pathogen, Pyricularia grisea, resulting in 50–100% yield loss. Though chemical fungicides are used for the management of blast disease, they have environmental and health concerns. Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) are an eco-friendly alternative for the control of blast disease in both conventional and organic agriculture.
The Microbiology Laboratory at MSSRF has identified a novel Pseudomonas sp. MSSRFD41, that inhibits the mycelial growth of P. grisea through multiple mechanisms such as production of antifungal metabolites, iron chelating siderophores, hydrolytic enzymes that was confirmed by electron microscopy. Seed pre-treatment with MSSRFD41 conferred higher percent germination, increased seedling vigor and enhanced root as well as shoot lengths. Experimental field trials with Pseudomonas sp. MSSRFD41 significantly reduced blast infestation and enhanced plant growth compared to chemical treatments and a liquid formulation was found to maintain an average shelf life of 150 days when stored at 25°C. The introduced Pseudomonas strain was compatible and did not alter the existing rhizosphere bacterial community. The research findings were recently published in Frontiers Microbiology (2018) 9:1029 (doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01029)