This study aimed to investigate the bioremediation efficiency of phytohormone-producing endophytic Bacillus amyloliquefaciens RWL-1 isolated from rice seeds. In this study, we tested RWL-1 against various heavy metals (Cu, Cr, Pb, and Cd). Among the tested heavy metals, RWL-1 showed the highest tolerance for Cu stress and we observed alterations in growth kinetics with various Cu concentrations (1, 2.5, and 5 mM). We confirmed the biosorption potential of RWL-1 by scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry showing that Cu ions were adsorbed on RWL-1 cell surfaces. We further tested RWL-1 for its plant growth promoting and stress reliance efficiency in response to a dose-dependent increase in soil Cu (1, 2.5, and 5 mM). The RWL-1 inoculation significantly increased seedling biomass and growth attributes compared with non-inoculated control seedlings with and without Cu stress. Moreover, RWL-1 inoculation significantly promoted a physiochemical response in seedlings with and without Cu stress by reducing Cu uptake, improving carbohydrate levels (glucose, sucrose, fructose, and raffinose), enhancing amino acids regulation, and augmenting antioxidant levels (POD, PPO, and GHS). Levels of stress-responsive phytohormones such as abscisic acid (ABA) and jasmonic acid were significantly reduced in RWL-1-inoculated seedlings as compared with non-inoculated control seedlings under normal condition and same levels of Cu stress. In conclusion, the inoculation of B. amyloliquefaciens RWL-1 can significantly improve plant growth in Cu-contaminated soil and reduce metal accumulation, thus making plants safer for consumption. This approach could be tremendously helpful for safe and sustainable agriculture in heavy metal-contaminated areas.

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