Potential use of endophytic bacteria as biofertilizer for sustainable banana (Musa spp.) Production
Bananas and plantains are of special significance to human society and are ranked as fourth most important food in the world after rice, wheat, and maize. Increased trade in local, regional and international markets has also made them an important cash crop, and in some cases the only source of income for rural populations. In Kenya, production of bananas is constrained by among others declining soil fertility coupled with high cost of fertilizers. A sustainable complementary response to declining soil fertility would be to increase the biological inputs of nutrients by exploitation of microorganisms, which are largely untapped natural resources for plant growth promotion. Endophytic bacteria are known to enhance plant growth in non-leguminous crops and improve their nutrition through nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilisation or siderophore production (iron chelation). Besides biofertilization, endophytic bacteria are also reported to promote plant growth and yield through direct production of phytohormones, or enzymes, or indirectly through biological control of plant pests and diseases or induced resistance response (biotization). In return, the plant protects endophytes and provides them with nutrients in form of photosynthates. Endophytes are increasingly gaining scientific and commercial interest because of this potential to improve plant quality and growth and their close association with internal tissues of host plant. This paper reviews the potential use of endophytic bacteria as biofertilizers for sustainable banana production.
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