The present investigation was conducted with anobjective to evaluate the efficiency of anapoplastic bacterial isolate,Bacillus methylotrophicus RABA6 to alleviate moisture stress in rice variety CO51.The seeds were biotized with B. methylotrophicus RABA6, @106CFU ml-1 with an OD660 of 1.0. Irrigation was withheld for ten days during panicle initiation to impose moisture stress and biometric observations were recorded. The results showed significant differences both in vegetative growth parameters as well as yield attributes compared with the uninoculatedcontrol under moisture stress. During panicle initiation stage (85th DAS), the plant height (105.26, 104.36 cm), root length (29.57, 28.23 cm), number of productive tillers plant-1(12.34, 10.75), leaf area (1113.75, 796.52cm2 plant-1), total number of panicles/ plant (15.63, 13.69) and1000 grain weight (23.65, 22.19 g) registered more in B. methylotrophicus RABA6 inoculated plants compared touninoculated control under both irrigated and moisture stressed conditions respectively. The present study envisages that the inoculation of rice with the apoplastic bacterium B. methylotrophicus RABA6 could promote general plant health and productivityunder moisture stress. Hence,the apoplastic bacterium B. methylotrophicus RABA6 can be recommended as a bio-inoculant for alleviating drought stress in rice and reduce the dependency on chemical fertilizers thereby, providing a step forward towards sustainable agriculture.
Key words : Apoplast, Bacillus methylotrophicus, rice, growth, yield, drought.