Efficiency of Various Formulations of Urea Coated with Bioaugmented (Bacillus sp.) ZnO to Improve Growth, Yield and Zn Contents of Wheat Grains
Qudsia Nazir 1, 2  
,   Azhar Hussain 3  
,   Muhammad Zahid Mumtaz 4  
,   Abid Niaz 1  
,   Muhammad Arif 1  
,   Muhammad Aftab 1  
,   Ana Aslam 1  
,   Tariq Aziz 2  
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Soil Chemistry Section, Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, Faisalabad, 38000 Pakistan
Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, 38040 Pakistan
Department of Soil Science, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, 63100 Pakistan
Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, The University of Lahore, Main Campus, Defense Road Lahore, 54000 Pakistan
Azhar Hussain   

The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan, Deaprtment of Soil Science, University College of , 63100, Bahawalpur, Pakistan
Submission date: 2020-04-08
Final revision date: 2020-05-30
Acceptance date: 2020-06-03
Online publication date: 2020-09-16
Publication date: 2020-11-10
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2021;30(1):803–810
Zinc (Zn) biofortification in staple cereal grains is a low-cost and viable option to overcome the Zn deficiency in humans beings in developing countries. Intensive cropping with no/low micronutrient fertilization has resulted in soil Zn deficiency around the globe. Moreover, the Zn use efficiency of soils is usually low owing to its fixation into unavailable forms. Hence, the present study was conducted to investigate the integrated effects of urea coated with bioaugmented Zn on wheat growth, yield, and Zn biofortification. The bioaugmented Zn was prepared by inoculating ZnO with Bacillus sp. AZ6. Three levels (0.5, 1.0, and 1.5%) of ZnO, bioaugmented Zn, and bioaugmented Zn+organic material were coated on urea fertilizer and applied to investigate the performance of the wheat crop. The applied treatments were compared with absolute control and sole application of ZnSO4, and Bacillus sp. AZ6. Results revealed that the application of urea coated with 1.5% bioaugmented Zn significantly increased wheat growth, yield, and Zn biofortification as compared to the sole ZnSO4, and Bacillus sp. AZ6 treatments. The application of urea coated with 1.5% bioaugmented Zn improved the accumulation of Zn in shoots and grains by 83.3% and 144.0%, respectively, compared to absolute control. The increase in grain Zn content was owing to the significant reduction in grain phytic acid (69.9%) and phytate:Zn molar ratios (87.6%) compared to absolute control. Therefore, it was concluded that the application of urea coated with bioactivated ZnO can improve Zn biofortification in wheat grain by reducing phytic acid concentrations, consequently fulfilling human Zn needs through the consumption of such Zn enrich wheat grains.