Chitin- and Keratin-Rich Soil Amendments Suppress Rhizoctonia solani Disease via Changes to the Soil Microbial Community

Beatriz Andreo-Jimenez, Mirjam T. Schilder, Els H. Nijhuis, Dennis E. Te Beest, Jaap Bloem, Johnny H.M. Visser, Gera van Os, Karst Brolsma, Wietse de Boer, Joeke Postma (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Enhancing soil suppressiveness against plant pathogens or pests is a promising alternative strategy to chemical pesticides. Organic amendments have been shown to reduce crop diseases and pests, with chitin products the most efficient against fungal pathogens. To study which characteristics of organic products are correlated with disease suppression, an experiment was designed in which 10 types of organic amendments with different physicochemical properties were tested against the soilborne pathogen Rhizoctonia solani in sugar beet seedlings. Organic amendments rich in keratin or chitin reduced Rhizoctonia solani disease symptoms in sugar beet plants. The bacterial and fungal microbial communities in amended soils were distinct from the microbial communities in nonamended soil, as well as those in soils that received other nonsuppressive treatments. The Rhizoctonia-suppressive amended soils were rich in saprophytic bacteria and fungi that are known for their keratinolytic and chitinolytic properties (i.e., Oxalobacteraceae and Mortierellaceae). The microbial community in keratin- and chitin-amended soils was associated with higher zinc, copper, and selenium, respectively.IMPORTANCE Our results highlight the importance of soil microorganisms in plant disease suppression and the possibility to steer soil microbial community composition by applying organic amendments to the soil.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2021


  • chitin
  • compost
  • keratin
  • microbiome
  • Rhizoctonia solani
  • soil suppressiveness
  • national
  • Plan_S-Compliant-OA


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