Plants may hold the key for aquaponics microbiome

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Wageningen University & Research grew lettuce (Lactuca sativa) under a variety of hydroponic conditions, including nutrient supplementation with a commercial hydroponic solution, nutrients derived from aquaculture of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and then with the inoculation of a probiotic or culture soil – with the aim of understanding the origin of microbial communities in aquaponics systems.

The role of the microbial community in mediating fish and plant culture is often considered the black box of aquaponics. Despite widespread recognition that plants depend on their rhizosphere – or the zone of chemical, biological and physical influence generated by root growth and activity – the extent to which aquaculture effluents influence the roots of hydroponic communities is not well understood.

Using multiple discriminant analyses (cluster dendrogram, principal component analysis), researchers highlighted the important role of plants in determining their own rhizosphere composition in soilless farming systems.

The researchers also conducted a taxonomic study (16S rRNA barcode) of the microbial communities originating from the water source, the hydroponic nutrient solution (HNS) sink, and the nutrient-supplemented biofilter effluent sink (BF), and the tanks of the recirculating aquaculture system stocked with Nile tilapia.


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