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Chitin is a valuable peat substrate amendment by increasing lettuce growth and reducing the survival of the zoonotic pathogen Salmonella enterica on lettuce leaves. The production of chitin-catabolic enzymes (chitinases) play a crucial role and are mediated through the microbial community. A higher abundance of plant-growth promoting microorganisms and genera involved in N and chitin metabolism are present in a chitin-enriched substrate. In this study, we hypothesize that chitin addition to peat substrate stimulates the microbial chitinase production. The degradation of chitin leads to nutrient release and the production of small chitin oligomers that are related to plant growth promotion and activation of the plant's defense response. First a shotgun metagenomics approach was used to decipher the potential rhizosphere microbial functions then the nutritional content of the peat substrate was measured. Our results show that chitin addition increases chitin-catabolic enzymes, bacterial ammonium oxidizing and siderophore genes. Lettuce growth promotion can be explained by a cascade degradation of chitin to N-acetylglucosamine and eventually ammonium. The occurrence of increased ammonium oxidizing bacteria, Nitrosospira, and amoA genes results in an elevated concentration of plant-available nitrate. In addition, the increase in chitinase and siderophore genes may have stimulated the plant's systemic resistance.