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Prevalence of potentially thermophilic microorganisms in biofilms from greenhouse-enclosed drip irrigation systems


Drip irrigation systems using reclaimed water often present clogging events of biological origin. Microbial communities in biofilms from microirrigation systems of an experimental greenhouse in Almería, SE Spain, which used two different qualities of water (treated wastewater and reclaimed water), were analyzed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and subsequent sequencing of amplified 16S rRNA gene bands. The most remarkable feature of all biofilms was that regardless of water origin, sequences belonging to Firmicutes were prevalent (53.5 % of total mean band intensity) and that almost all sequences recovered had some similarity (between 80.2 and 97 %) to thermophilic microorganisms. Mainly, sequences were closely related to potentially spore-forming organisms, suggesting that microbial communities able to grow at high temperatures were selected from the microbiota present in the incoming water. These pioneer results may contribute to improve management strategies to minimize the problems associated to biofouling in irrigation systems.

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This work was supported by Grants CSD2006-00044 TRAGUA (CONSOLIDER-INGENIO2010) and CTQ2009-14390-C02-02 from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science to J.M., and PET2008-0165-02 to O.S.

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Correspondence to Olga Sánchez.

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Communicated by Erko Stackebrandt.

Olga Sánchez and Isabel Ferrera have contributed equally to this article.

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Fig. S1. Dendrogram resulting from hierarchical clustering (A) and non-metrical multidimensional (NMDS) plot (B) based on Bray–Curtis dissimilarities between biofilm samples calculated from the square root transformed relative abundance of each band from the DGGE fingerprint. In the NMDS plot, samples derived from SEW are represented in black and those from TEW in grAy (stress value = 0). Samples from pipes are represented as squares and those from drippers as circles. SEW: secondary effluent water; TEW: tertiary effluent water. (TIFF 12076 kb)

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Sánchez, O., Ferrera, I., Garrido, L. et al. Prevalence of potentially thermophilic microorganisms in biofilms from greenhouse-enclosed drip irrigation systems. Arch Microbiol 196, 219–226 (2014).

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  • DGGE
  • 16S rRNA gene
  • Thermophilic bacteria
  • Biofilms
  • Wastewater reuse