Sukriti Gupta, Rashi Gupta, Shilpi Sharma
Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, 110016, India.
To compare the target and non-target effects of two chemical-pesticides (chlorpyrifos and endosulfan) with that of a bio-pesticide (azadirachtin), Vigna radiata (mung bean) was grown in a randomized pot experiment with recommended and higher application rates of pesticides. Colony counts enumerating specific microbial populations, viz. fungi, Pseudomonas, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and phosphate-solubilizing microorganisms, were performed. In addition, several plant growth parameters such as root and shoot lengths were also monitored. It was observed that the pesticides exerted a suppressive effect on different microbial communities under study in the initial 30 days period. The bacterial and fungal populations in chlorpyrifos treated plants increased thereafter. Endosulfan resulted in enhancement of fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, although phosphate-solubilizing microorganisms were suppressed at higher application rates. Azadirachtin, which is gaining popularity owing to its biological origin, did not result in enhancement of any microbial populations; on the other hand, it had a deleterious effect on phosphate-solubilizing bacteria. This study is the first to evaluate the non-target effects of pesticides with a comparison between chemical- and bio-pesticides, and also stresses the importance of critical investigation of bio-pesticides before their wide spread application in agriculture.