Multi-analytical approach reveals potential microbial indicators in soil for sugarcane model systems

Acacio Aparecido Navarrete, Tatiana Rosa Diniz, Lucas Palma Perez Braga, Genivaldo Gueiros Zacarias Silva, Julio Cezar Franchini, Raffaella Rossetto, Robert Alan Edwards, Siu Mui Tsai

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32 Citations (Scopus)


This study focused on the effects of organic and inorganic amendments and straw retention on the microbial biomass (MB) and taxonomic groups of bacteria in sugarcane-cultivated soils in a greenhouse mesocosm experiment monitored for gas emissions and chemical factors. The experiment consisted of combinations of synthetic nitrogen (N), vinasse (V; a liquid waste from ethanol production), and sugarcane-straw blankets. Increases in CO2-C and N2O-N emissions were identified shortly after the addition of both N and V to the soils, thus increasing MB nitrogen (MB-N) and decreasing MB carbon (MB-C) in the N+V-amended soils and altering soil chemical factors that were correlated with the MB. Across 57 soil metagenomic datasets, Actinobacteria (31.5%), Planctomycetes (12.3%), Deltaproteobacteria (12.3%), Alphaproteobacteria (12.0%) and Betaproteobacteria (11.1%) were the most dominant bacterial groups during the experiment. Differences in relative abundance of metagenomic sequences were mainly revealed for Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria and Verrucomicrobia with regard to N+V fertilization and straw retention. Differential abundances in bacterial groups were confirmed using 16S rRNA gene-targeted phylum-specific primers for real-time PCR analysis in all soil samples, whose results were in accordance with sequence data, except for Gammaproteobacteria. Actinobacteria were more responsive to straw retention with Rubrobacterales, Bifidobacteriales and Actinomycetales related to the chemical factors of N+V-amended soils. Acidobacteria subgroup 7 and Opitutae, a verrucomicrobial class, were related to the chemical factors of soils without straw retention as a surface blanket. Taken together, the results showed that MB-C and MB-N responded to changes in soil chemical factors and CO2-C and N2O-N emissions, especially for N+V-amended soils. The results also indicated that several taxonomic groups of bacteria, such as Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria and Verrucomicrobia, and their subgroups acted as early-warning indicators of N+V amendments and straw retention in sugarcane-cultivated soils, which can alter the soil chemical factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0129765
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited


  • Microbial indicators
  • sugarcane-cultivated soils
  • straw retention
  • microbial biomass (MB)
  • sugarcane model systems
  • greenhouse mesocosm experiment


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