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Characterization of bacterial communities from Masseiras, a unique Portuguese greenhouse agricultural system


“Masseiras” is an ancient Portuguese agriculture system, where soil was developed from sand dunes enriched with seaweeds over more than a century. Due to the importance for the local economy, this system evolved for greenhouse structures. In this study we compared the bacterial community composition and structure of “Masseiras” soil, aiming at assessing the potential impact of different agricultural practices. The bulk soil of two greenhouses (following or not the recommended agriculture good practices, FGP and NFGP, respectively) was compared based on their physicochemical properties and bacterial community. In both FGP and NFGP, Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Gemmatimonadetes were in a proportion of 5:1:1:1:1:1. However, the bacterial community of soil FGP was richer and more diverse than that of soil NFGP. Members of the classes Bacilli and Gemm-1, with higher relative abundance in NFGP and FGP, respectively, were those contributing most for distinguishing the bacterial communities of both soils. The differences in the structure of the bacterial communities correlated (Mantel test) with some soil physicochemical properties, such as electrical conductivity and nitrate and Zn contents, which were significantly higher in soil NFGP than in soil FGP.

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Authors gratefully acknowledge Mr. Manuel Flores and Ms. Maria Lopes, owners of the studied greenhouses, for valuable help in soil sampling and for giving all the information concerning the farming management.


This work was financially supported by Project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006939 (Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy—LEPABE funded by FEDER funds through COMPETE2020—Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (POCI)—and by national funds through FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia. This work was also supported by National Funds from FCT through the project UID/Multi/50016/2013-CBQF and the Grants SFRH/BPD/87152/2012 (CBC) and SFRH/BPD/92894/2013 (ARL).

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Correspondence to Olga C. Nunes.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This is a posthumous publication of our dear colleague Dr. Cristina Becerra-Castro.

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Becerra-Castro, C., Lopes, A.R., Teixeira, S. et al. Characterization of bacterial communities from Masseiras, a unique Portuguese greenhouse agricultural system. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 110, 665–676 (2017).

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  • Agriculture
  • Pyrosequencing
  • Sand
  • Horticultural crops
  • PCoA
  • Bacterial community analysis