Bacterial β-glucosidase function and metabolic activity depend on soil management in semiarid rainfed agriculture


  • Funded by ERDF-cofinanced grant CGL2009-07907 from the Spanish Ministry of Science of Innovation.

Emilio Benitez, Department of Environmental Protection, Estación Experimental del Zaidín (EEZ), CSIC, Profesor Albareda 1, 18008 Granada, Spain. Tel: +34958181600; Fax: +34958129600; E-mail:


Genomic and transcriptomic approaches were used to gain insights into the relationship between soil management and bacterial-mediated functions in an olive orchard agroecosystem. Four management practices were assessed in a 30-year trial in a semiarid Mediterranean region. Transcriptional activity of bacterial 16S rRNA genes increased in noncovered soils, indicating higher microbial maintenance requirements to thrive in less favorable environmental conditions. The 16S rRNA transcript:gene copy ratio confirmed this assumption and pointed toward a much higher constitutive expression from rRNA operons in noncovered soils and to even higher expression levels when spontaneous vegetation was removed chemically. As described for 16S rRNA, potential transcription did not reveal the real transcription of bacterial β-glucosidase genes, and higher gene expression in noncovered soils plus herbicides was evidenced. Since no relationship between total or soluble organic carbon and bacterial β-glucosidase transcription was found, the above hypothesis could indicate either that soluble organic carbon is not the main pool of enzyme-inducing substrates or that constitutive production of bacterial β-glucosidase enzymes increases as soil conditions worsen.