Understanding the shift in the microbiome of composts that are optimized for a better fit-for-purpose in growing media

Steffi Pot, Caroline De Tender, Sarah Ommeslag, Ilse Delcour, Johan Ceusters, Ellen Gorrens, Jane Debode, Bart Vandecasteele, Karen Vancampenhout

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftA1: Web of Science-artikelpeer review


Three characteristics are considered key for optimal use of composts in growing media: maturity, pH and organic matter content. Maturation is a critical step in the processing of composts contributing to compost quality. Blending of composts with chopped heath biomass, sieving out the larger fraction of composts and acidification of composts by adding elemental sulfur may be used either to increase organic matter content or to reduce pH for a better fit in growing media. While several studies have shown the effectiveness of these treatments to improve the use of composts in growing media, the effect of these treatments on the compost microbiome has merely been assessed before. In the present study, five immature composts were allowed to mature, and were subsequently acidified, blended or sieved. Bacterial and fungal communities of the composts were characterized and quantified using 16S rRNA and ITS2 gene metabarcoding and phospholipid fatty acid analysis. Metabolic biodiversity and activity were analyzed using Biolog EcoPlates. Compost batch was shown to be more important than maturation or optimization treatments to determine the compost microbiome. Compost maturation increased microbial diversity and favored beneficial microorganisms, which may be positive for the use of composts in growing media. Blending of composts increased microbial diversity, metabolic diversity, and metabolic activity, which may have a positive effect in growing media. Blending may be used to modify the microbiome to a certain degree in order to optimize microbiological characteristics. Acidification caused a decrease in bacterial diversity and microbial activity, which may be negative for the use in growing media, although the changes are limited. Sieving had limited effect on the microbiome of composts. Because of the limited effect on the microbiome, sieving of composts may be used flexible to improve (bio)chemical characteristics. This is the first study to assess the effects of maturation and optimization treatments to either increase organic matter content or lower pH in composts on the compost microbiome.
Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
TijdschriftFrontiers in microbiology
Pagina's (van-tot)643679
PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - 7-apr.-2021


  • Biolog EcoPlates
  • compost
  • maturation
  • metabarcoding
  • microorganisms
  • optimization
  • phospholipid fatty acid
  • sustainable growing media


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