, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 134-141
Date: 24 Jan 2005

Seasonal Changes in Free-Living Amoeba Species in the Root Canopy of Zygophyllum dumosum in the Negev Desert, Israel

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Abstract

The influence of seasonality and Zygophyllum dumosum root canopy on the species diversity of free-living amoebae at two soil depths (0–10 and 10–20 cm) was studied in a Negev Desert ecosystem in Israel. Free-living amoebae were extracted and identified after cultivation in non-nutritive agar plates. A total of 90 amoeba species were identified in the soil during the study period, with the most common genera present being Hartmannella, Platyamoeba, Vahlkampfia, Acanthamoeba, and Echinamoeba. Differences between the control soil and the soil under Z. dumosum were found mainly during the dry seasons, when 97% similarity was found between the two soil layers, which could be due to the effect of the shrub on the soil microenvironment. The amoeba community exhibited more species diversity in spring (reaching a value of 34 species) than in the winter (18 species) or summer and autumn (20 species), since the community has a time lag for becoming stabilized after the dry summer and autumn. This is one of the first studies on the amoeba population in the Negev Desert and elucidates the importance and the need for taking trophic and functional groups into consideration in order to understand biomineralization processes.