Agronomy and Horticulture, Department of


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Published in APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, Mar. 1989, p. 617-622 Vol. 55, No. 3. Copyright 1989, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


The utilization of gels, which are used for fluid drilling of seeds, as carriers of Bradyrhizobium japonicum for soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) inoculation was studied. Gels of various chemical composition (magnesium silicate, potassium acrylate-acrylamide, grafted starch, and hydroxyethyl cellulose) were used, although the hydroxyethyl cellulose gels were more extensively investigated. Gel inocula were prepared by mixing gel powder with liquid cultures of B. japonicum (2% [wt/vol]). The population of B. japonicum USDA 110 did not change in each gel type during 8 days of incubation at 28°C. These fluid gels were prepared with late-exponential-growth-phase cells that were washed and suspended in physiological saline. Mid-exponentialgrowth- phase B. japonicum USDA 110, 123, and 138 grew in cellulose gels prepared with yeast extractmannitol broth as well as or better than in yeast extract-mannitol broth alone for the first 10 days at 28°C. Populations in these cellulose gels after 35 days were as large as when the gels had originally been prepared, and survival occurred for at least 70 days. Soybeans grown in sand in the greenhouse had greater nodule numbers, nodule weights, and top weights with gel inoculants compared with a peat inoculant. In soil containing 103 indigenous B. japonicum per g of soil, inoculation resulted in increased soybean nodule numbers, nodule weights, and top weights, but only nodule numbers were greater with gel than with peat inoculation. The gel-treated seeds carried 102 to 103 more bacteria per seed (107 to 108) than did the peat-treated seeds.