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Microbiological Research
Vol. 183, 2016, Pages: 26–41

Bacteria and fungi can contribute to nutrients bioavailability and aggregate formation in degraded soils

Muhammad Imtiaz Rashid, Liyakat Hamid Mujawar, Tanvir Shahzad, Talal Almeelbi, Iqbal M.I. Ismail, Mohammad Oves

Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, P.O Box 80216, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia.


Intensive agricultural practices and cultivation of exhaustive crops has deteriorated soil fertility and its quality in agroecosystems. According to an estimate, such practices will convert 30% of the total world cultivated soil into degraded land by 2020. Soil structure and fertility loss are one of the main causes of soil degradation. They are also considered as a major threat to crop production and food security for future generations. Implementing safe and environmental friendly technology would be viable solution for achieving sustainable restoration of degraded soils. Bacterial and fungal inocula have a potential to reinstate the fertility of degraded land through various processes. These microorganisms increase the nutrient bioavailability through nitrogen fixation and mobilization of key nutrients (phosphorus, potassium and iron) to the crop plants while remediate soil structure by improving its aggregation and stability. Success rate of such inocula under field conditions depends on their antagonistic or synergistic interaction with indigenous microbes or their inoculation with organic fertilizers. Co-inoculation of bacteria and fungi with or without organic fertilizer are more beneficial for reinstating the soil fertility and organic matter content than single inoculum. Such factors are of great importance when considering bacteria and fungi inocula for restoration of degraded soils. The overview of presented mechanisms and interactions will help agriculturists in planning sustainable management strategy for reinstating the fertility of degraded soil and assist them in reducing the negative impact of artificial fertilizers on our environment.

Keywords: Degraded land; Food security; Microbial inocula; Nutrient bioavailability; Soil fertility; Siderophores; Soil aggregation.

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