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Conference paper - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Sustainable Greenhouse Systems - the Potential of Microorganisms

Alsanius, Beatrix; Hultberg, Malin; Khalil, Sammar; Rosberg, Anna Karin; Burleigh, Stephen


Due to the high input of means of production and productivity, environmental issues have been highlighted in horticulture for some years. They concern the impact of horticultural production systems on the environment in a narrow (i.e., occupational, crop) and broader (CO2 emission, nutrient leakage, chemical pollution) sense. In all production systems, multiple plant-microbial interactions occur. The resident microflora may be plant growth-enhancing, -neutral or -deleterious. Also microorganisms hazardous to the consumer may occur. To create sustainable horticultural cropping systems, irrespectively of the type of production management (organic or conventional/integrated production), microorganisms can enhance productivity by improved nutrient availability and crop health if their demands are optimized. Stimulatory growth responses encompass direct (i.e., production of plant hormones) or indirect (i.e., formation of compounds antagonizing plant pathogens, induced resistance) effects. Early reports indicate at the stimulatory effect of microorganisms on crop development (emergence, time of blossom) and yield. Their effect could be optimized when added as multiple strain treatments. In this context, organic carbon availability is an important factor. Organic compounds in sustainable greenhouse systems initially received negative attention as they were suspected as the causal agent for phytotoxic plant response. However, various recent studies could show the potential of microorganisms to degrade organic compounds in the nutrient solution of sustainable greenhouse cropping systems and consortia of efficient degraders of specific phenolic compounds were found to provoke higher biomass production in the presence of the phenolic compound. Other investigations indicate that the quality and quantity of organic compounds available is crucial for microbial metabolite production and thus level of growth promotion or antagonism. By habitat management, the preconditions for metabolite formation and crop response by introduced microorganisms or the indigenous microflora may be optimized. However, key mechanisms have to be identified in order to provoke the consistent formation of the appropriate metabolite at relevant sites within the growing system. Microbial markers may be used in order to predict the health status in closed cropping systems and to time microbial management in the cropping system.


biocontrol; closed systems; habitat management; hydroponics; mechanisms; prognosis

Published in

Acta Horticulturae
2011, number: 893, pages: 155-167
ISBN: 978-90-66050-47-1


International Symposium on High Technology for Greenhouse Systems (GreenSys)

      SLU Authors

        • Khalil, Samar

          • Horticulture, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
            • Burleigh, Stephen

              • Horticulture, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

            Sustainable Development Goals

            SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

            UKÄ Subject classification

            Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

            Publication identifier


            Permanent link to this page (URI)