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Int. J. Adv. Res. Biol. Sci. (2017).

4(3): 35-42

International Journal of Advanced Research in Biological Sciences
ISSN: 2348-8069
DOI: 10.22192/ijarbs Coden: IJARQG(USA) Volume 4, Issue 3 - 2017
Review Article


Azotobacter chroococcum: Utilization and potential use for
agricultural crop production: An overview

Sellamuthu Gothandapani1,2, Soundarapandian Sekar2 and Jasdeep C Padaria1*
Biotechnology and Climate Change Laboratory, National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology,
Pusa Campus, New Delhi, India
Department of Industrial Biotechnology, School of Biotechnology Bharathidasan University,
Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India
*Corresponding author:

It is important to develop integrated crop production strategies that enhance the productive ability of crops in a sustainable
manner for the developing nations worldwide. Intensive farming practice of high yielding crop production is mainly dependent on
chemical inputs as fertilizer, pesticide and weedicides. However, excessive use of chemical inputs has negative impact on
environment in the form of soil infertility, ground water contamination, imbalance of biological ecosystem and cost inputs. Soil
health is an important aspect of productive sustainable agriculture and in recent years maintaining soil quality can reduce the
problems of land degradation, decreasing soil fertility through use of advanced technologies in the field of biofertilizers.
Biofertilizers can produce mineral nutrients through natural processes of biological nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilization
and also stimulation plant growth through the synthesis of plant growth promoting substances. Thus, in recent years biofertilizers
have become an important component of integrated management for enhanced crop production. This paper reviews the facts and
observations regarding an important biofertilizer microorganism Azotobacter chroococcum and its potential for crop production

Keywords: Azotobacter, Biofertilizer, Crop improvement, Sustainable agriculture.

In recent years salinization, soil erosion and ground the application of biofertilizers can reduce the negative
water contaminations are the most important impact of chemical fertilizers and decrease the adverse
ecological concerns which affect the agricultural land environmental effects of agrochemicals. Biofertilizers
causing it to become unsuitable for crop production. or bio inoculants are minute organisms which are
Biofertilizer plays key role in productivity and beneficial to the growth of plants and responsible for
sustainability of soil health management in terms of enhanced crop yield. The various naturally available
solubilizing plant nutrients; both micro and macro free living bacteria which are very beneficial for the
nutrients, and stimulating plant growth. Use of overall plant growth are collectively known as plant
biofertilizer in agriculture protect the environment as growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) (Kloepper,
they are eco-friendly and economical for the farmers 1994). These PGPRs are mainly involved in metabolic
(Khosro and Yousef, 2012). Increasing and extending process related to nitrogen fixation, phosphate

are generally most commonly used biofertilizers in different present in natural and alkaline soil with its most agricultural crops either as combined or as single commonly occurring species found in arable soils. heterotrophic non-symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria Easy accessibility of biofertilizer is an added principally inhabiting neutral or alkaline soils (Sartaj advantage especially for small and marginal farmers et al. grain weight mesophilic Azotobacter spp.. The estimated contribution of these free. A. Azotobacter sp. ground water increased tremendously in recent years. heterotrophic. belonging to family but is also found to be increasing crop productivity Azotobacteriaceae. chemical fertilizer have become fertility (Mishra. and disruption of Since the advent of green revolution and high input flora-fauna of ecosystem and ultimately reduced soil agriculture practices.. Biological contamination and hence loss of ecological balance. gram-negative. Sci. non- soil (Verma et al... 2014). blue green algae. Namvar et al. The increased crop yield accompanied by protection of colony characters such as colony-margin. A. was commonly found as small. agricultural crop productivity. 2013). paspali. Dependence on the major source of nitrogen for crop plants (Peoples available and required chemical fertilizers for the et al. and Azospirillum sp. fixation in plant rhizosphere (Lakshminarayana 2000). A. soil ranges from 0–60 kg/ha per year.. et al. 2009). acidification. 2009). Rhizobium sp are few of the commonly used In recent year’s intensive farming practices have led to phosphate solubilizing microorganisms which are also high crop yield which has been achieved by extensive used as biofertilizers. motile and significantly increased its plant height. Sinorhizobium mycorrhizae is use of chemical fertilizers and these chemical one of the most studied microbe with phosphate fertilizers are environmentally and economically solubilizing and other PGPR properties (Selvakumar inhibitory. in medium or large rod shaped cells. The colonies the development of sustainable agricultural use of developed on Jensen’s agar medium were raised. vinelandii. 36 . 2005. 2013).. led to the environmental pollution and contamination of the soil. Rana et al. Adv. 2003). Azospirillum sp. beijerinckii... pollution of water basins. A. shown that inoculation of maize crop with Azotobacter salinestri. armeniacus. Nitrogen plays important role able to fix atmospheric nitrogen are grouped in to in increasing the crop yield. genus Azotobacter comprises of different species: living nitrogen fixing bacteria to the nitrogen input of A. (2017). Therefore. The long term use of 2) blue green algae and 3) symbionts (Rajendra et al. 2012. It is also involved in various other metabolic pathways Characteristic features of Azotobacter chroococcum of plant growth promotion (Gonzalez-Lopez et al. 2013).nigricans and A. Int. Inoculation of Azotobacter increased an average 20 kg N/ha/per year (Rawia et al.. antagonistic activity against plant pathogens in Azotobacteriaceae is an aerobic. 2001) and activation of potential symbiotic biological nitrogen fixing microbe. Azolla. Res. Biofertilizer advancement in growing level of concern towards are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen as single environmental safety sustainable agricultural practice microbial inoculants or as consortia. Vessey (2003) association with some crops especially cereals reported Azotobacter sp. species of Azotobacter spp.. The inoculation. et al. J. Azotobacter as biofertilizer has great importance in spherical flat and with irregular margins. The non-symbiotic free living for whom the cost of chemical fertilizer is becoming Azotobacter is largely associated with nitrogen unaffordable (Mishra et al. 2004. 4(3): 35-42 solubilization and overall plant growth promotion. treatment (Bandhu and Parbati. are the (Martyniuk et al. (Tejera. The genus Azotobacter. The genus Azotobacter. The free-living. It has rhizospheric bio-inoculants for enhancement of plant been found that some Azotobacter species exist in yield (Lakshminarayana et al. Studies have A. 2000). Due to public awareness of future agricultural growth will result in further environmental safety. 1995). crop nutrients for three broad categories as: 1) non-symbiotic bacteria. Continuous use of chemical fertilizers has et al. size. biofertilizers is not only economical and eco-friendly 1998). Microbes that are (Debojyoti et al. 2012). belonging to the family 1986).chroococcum. nitrogen fixation plays an important role in The field of eco-friendly biofertilizers is creating maintaining of nitrogen status of the soil. represents the main group of and improving soil health over chemical fertilizers.. grain yield in maize upto 35% over the non inoculated Azotobacter spp. use of biofertilizes have reduction in soil quality. Need of Bio-Fertilizers Azotobacter sp. Biol. The colony improved of nutrient profile of plant and soil and size varied from ≥2 mm to ≥5 mm in 7days. are capable of fixing on and grain yield. 2013). colour environmental pollution and soil contamination (Saini and consistency also differed among the different et al..

long-term storage. Gamma irradiation or autoclaving can Development of Biofertilizer be used as method for sterilization to avoid other microbial contaminants. synthesis of antibiotics.Azotobacter sps. 2008). 4(3): 35-42 Ahmad. Such microbes promoting hormones. (2017). physiological-biochemical processes in plants and 37 . rate of multiplication. 1983)..212 mm IS materials sieve 6 Moisture percent by weight 30–40% maximum in case of carrier based 7 Storage temperature below 30oC 8 Efficiency character The strain should be capable of fixing at least 10 mg of nitrogen per g of sucrose consumed *Type of carrier: The carrier materials such as peat. two types of nitrogenases viz. its and also its antifungal activity (Sudhir et al.. lignite. viable count under field conditions and found in the rhizosphere of agricultural crops. Production of plant growth hormone and their thereby promote their growth. vanadium– iron nitrogenase ( Neeru et al. For high effectiveness of microbiologist and botanist Martinus Beijerinck biofertilizers the carrier material also plays a major (Martyniuk and Martyniuk. Adv. or plant growth tryptophan was added to the medium. microbes need to be screened before selecting a plant growth hormones (Pandey et al.chrococcum is a common nitrogen fixing microbe contamination. shelf life of the microbe. optimum conditions for Azotobacter spps is due to its the capability of microbes growth. . Biol.5–7.. it should have good moisture absorption aptimize a several factors related to growth of microbe capacity and good adhesion to seeds property (Khosro under field conditions. The carrier material is selected should be easy to handle.. highly diffusible in soil.No Specification Recommended range 1 Base Carrier based* in form of moist/dry powder or granules. which affect certain (Broughton et al.. which Subsequent Effects exerted a beneficial effect upon plant growth was observed to produce indol-3-acetic acid (IAA) when Plant growth promoting substances. 2012). 2003). level of microbial A. It should have good pH and catalases to reduce the concentration of O2 in the buffering capacity. but good carrier material must also be non-toxic to Azotobacter sp.. are natural substances that are therefore may be used as biofertilizers for agriculture produced by microorganisms. role. was need to be worked out before proceeding with discovered and described in 1901 by the Dutch biofertilizer development. The first carrier size (Table-1) are very important aspects that representative of the genus A. J. easy to process and could be cells (Shank et al.. 1998). Important exopolysaccharides and pigment (Jimenez et al. The microbial property such as and Yousef . chroococcum. molybdenum – iron Sterilization of carrier material is essential to keep nitrogenase. 3 Contamination level No contamination at 10-5 dilution 4 pH 6. or cyst based (liquid) and seed based 2 Viable cell count CFU minimum 5 × 107 – 1 × 109 cell/g of carrier material or 1 × 109 – 1 × 1012 cell/ml of liquid. 2003).have special mechanism of oxidases inoculant strain and to plant. If using seed as carrier for To develop any effective biofertilizer we need to microbes. interactive behaviour with other biological nitrogen fixation. microbe for developing it as biofertilizer. A Nitrogen fixation process is highly sensitive to O2. storage period and to avoid other bacterial contamination. high number of inoculants bacteria on carrier for long 2000). Sci. Table-1: Specification of biofertilizers Azotobacter (Yadav and Chandra. 2011) characteristics like pH.. The agronomic importance of microbes growth pattern.. Int. vitamins. Res.15–0. peat soil and humus. et al. wood charcoal or similar material favoring growth of organism. 2014) S. Azotobacter species have sterilized by either autoclaving or gamma radiation.5 5 Particle size in case of carrier based All materials should pass through 0. 2005).

postulated that these effects may be caused by the indole acetic acid. Barik and Goswami culture supernatant contained indole-3-acetic acid. lettuce. Azotobacter inoculation on tomato produce supplementary element for the plants.. (2003).. Azotobacter inoculation on growth and yield of phosphate and potassium are required by crops to vegetable crops.. paspali plants (Pandey and Kumar 1989). The released by Azotobacter and thus the growth and treatment of seedlings of tomato and lettuce with A.. siderophores and activity of the auxin. Res. 2007). Biofertilizer will the fertility of the soil and distinctly increased the influence the soil ecosystem and environment and yield of the plant. beijerinckii (Azcon and Barea 1975). beijerinckii cultures accelerated Azotobacter has the ability to produce vitamins like the plant growth and increased fruits yield. Studies thiamine and riboflavin and plant hormones viz. productivity of the plant is improved. number of leves. Modified) Effect of biofertilizer on the plant growth and yield organisms and plants through plant microbe interaction (Sujanya and Chandra. Azospirillum and young plants which were treated with A. They found that inoculation of seeds develop a natural ability to tolerant different biotic and or roots with Azotobacter cultures seems to influence abiotic stress (Tsai et al. vinelandii and A. Potential use of Azotobacter in sustainable crop production. as available form due to the interaction of micro.1974). observed that treating roots of tomato seedlings with A. 2014. These growth hormones from the cultures of A. paspali plant growth hormones which often leads to increase root differentiation and development (Barea and and shoot growth (Debojyoti et al. 4(3): 35-42 Root colonizing bacteria like. compared to control. It also seeds resultedlated in increase in fruit yield vigorous includes organic fertilizers. Macro nutrients such as nitrogen. J. It has been Brows. An increase in total plant protein 38 . Strains of paspali changed the growth and development of the Azotobacter are known to also improve uptake and seedlings with significant increase in the weight of utilization of essential nutrients by the associated leaves and roots... gibberellins. Biol. reported that seed inoculation with A. It was observed that A. The macro and micro plant nutrients play an important role in the productivity of agricultural crops as well as Mehrotra and Lehri (1971) observed the effect of for the environment. gibberellins and cytokinins which may be responsible chroococcum strains significantly influenced the for significant improvement in growth of tomato and growth and yield of wheat. 2014). 2011). Adv. (Source: Bhardwaj et al. paspali Pseudomonas species are known to produce plant indicating the influence of A. There was distinct difference in fruit size of Figure:1. Sci. vinelandii plant growth promoting substance are exogenously and A. (2017). which are rendered in an growth in terms of plant spread. Int. gibberellins and cytokinin plant cytokinins (Fig:1) (Abd El-Fattah et al. 2013).

) to various integrated within the root where the bacterium resides (Saikia nutrient management practices and found that the and Jain. chroococcum saved 25 per cent ammonia from either symbiotic or non-symbiotic nitrogen in cabbage cultivation (Devi et al. Nitrogen fixing microorganisms plays an cabbage with various treatments including application important role in increasing yield by making of poultry manure and biofertilizers. Combined Biofertilizer could be used as a source of nutrient for application of microorganisms along with 150 kg N/ha agricultural crops for improved crop yield and quality resulted in highest yield of tuber productions which and low availability at a production costs (Caalcante et was significantly higher than the control. var. It has further ultimately shown that the beneficial effects of non-symbiotic led to deleterious effects on human health. (Ramakrishnan and Selvakumar G. and identification of microorganism with efficient plant Azospirillum sp. as compared to non-inoculated plants growth promoting activity needs to be targeted. Azotobacter and Azospirillum system. providing fundamentals to farmers for increasing crop it resulted in significantly higher growth and grain productivity. Plant studies have unsuitable for plant growth. In a study on al. (Kandil et al. The Conclusion most important characteristic common to most of biofertilizers is unpredictability of their efficiency. 4(3): 35-42 content and chlorophyll content were absorbed in combination of different biofertilizers such as A.. component for increasing the sustainable agricultural productivity and maintaining long term soil fertility in Wheat growth and grain yield was increased in plants an eco-friendly manner. B. Khadeer. ground water etc. Microbial inoculants have Azotobacter (Singh and Singh 2007). The non-symbiotic bacteria as application of Azotobacter as a earliness seedling Azotobacter and Azospirillum are most important N- treatment was best for getting higher yield and fixing bacteria in non-leguminous crops. J. 1994). Biol. Proper use non-symbiotic microbes as obtained in case of black pepper (Bopaiah and biofertilizers showed increase in growth and yield. Bacillus megatherium. reported that atmospheric nitrogen available to the plant in soluble application of A. 2012). the consistency of their performance must soil fertility.. culture as compared to control. Adv. microbes. number Saccharomyces cerevisiae resulted in improvement of of leaves in the plants treated with Azotobacter. brazilense. tomato plants/seeds inoculated with Azotobacter chroococcum.2012). Int. This was because of circulans. In this review the role of non-symbiotic yields as compared to independent treatment of microbes as biofertilizer in agriculture has been Azotobacter (Tilak. microbes on plants can be enhanced by co-inoculation environment. 2003). Similar results were also discussed. growth and nutritional quality (Zayed. Res. Pseudomonas fluorescens and the vigorous growth in terms of plant spread. roduction of protocol for enhanced that when the biofertilizers were inoculated with biofertilizer inoculam needs to standardized so as to combined treatment of Azotobacter and Azospirillum. Sci. 2002). 1989) and tomato plants (Ramakrishnan and The application of inorganic chemical fertilizers was Selvakumar. In Moringa oleifera using 39 . Singh (2001) observed the same response of significantly Significance of biofertilizer in Agriculture increased tuber yield in Azotobacter treated potato grown under north-eastern hill conditions. can enhance plant growth development and yield of several agricultural important crops in different agro In form of consortia climatic soils (Okon and Labendera-Gonzalez. soil profile and rendered the soil be improved (Wani and Lee. 2011). Study in pearl millet suggested Further. 2007). Bio- with other microorganisms as compared to single fertilizers are being recognized as an essential inoculation. Under earliness is a prerequisite for high intensity cropping appropriate conditions. The symbiotic bacteria Rhizobia are Kumar et al. In Evolution of modern agriculture has lead to extensive order to known the benefits of biofertilizers in use of agricultural chemicals which have degraded the agriculture. been in use for traditional farming for enhanced crop productivity without realizing their exact role. A. (2017). Azotobacter along with other biofertilizers has Recent studies show promising trends in the field of important function in soil as they can fix 15-20 kg microbial consortia development (combinations of nitrogen/ha/crop and give about 10-15per cent microorganisms) for enhanced crop productivity and increase in yield as compared to singly treated sustainable agriculture. 1995). 2012). soil health. (2008) studied the response of knolkhol associated with legumes and nitrogen fixation occurs (Brassica oleracea L. 2012). At present research focus on wherein seeds were treated with Azotobacter sp.

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