Microbial Ecology

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 134–141

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

  • S. Rodriguez Zaragoza
  • E. Mayzlish
  • Y. Steinberger


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.


  1. 1.
    Bamforth, SS 2001Proportions of active ciliate taxa in soils.Biol Fertil Soils33197203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Campbell, CD, Grayston, SJ, Hurst, DJ 1997Use of rhizosphere carbon source in sole carbon source tests to discriminate soil microbial communities.J Microbiol Methods303341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Clarholm, M, Roswell, T 1981Biomass and turnover of bacteria in forest soil tundra peat.Soil Biol Biochem1249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Côuteaux, M-M, Darbyshire, JF 1998Functional diversity amongst soil protozoa.Appl Soil Ecol10229238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dan, J, Yaalon, DH, Royumdjisky, H, Raz, Z 1972The soil association map of Israel.Isr J Earth Sci22949Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Danin, A 1983Desert Vegetation of Israel and SinaiCana PublicationsJerusalemGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Evenari, ME, Shanan, L, Tadmore, W 1982The Negev: The Challenge of a DesertHarvard University PressCambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Foissner, W 1997Protozoa as bioindicators in agroecosystems with emphasis on farming practices, biocides, and biodiversity.Agric Ecosyst Environ6293103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Garner, W, Steinberger, Y 1989A proposed mechanism for the formation of ‘Fertile Island’ in the desert ecosystem.J Arid Environ16257262Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Griffiths, BS, Caul, S 1993Migration of bacterial-feeding nematodes, but no protozoa, to decomposing grass residues.Biol Fertil Soils15201207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kinsbursky, RS, Degani, R, Barness, G, Steinberger, Y 1990Root-microbial population dynamics in a soil profile under the canopy of the desert shrub Zygophyllum dumosum.J Arid Environ19261267Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ludwig, JA, Reynolds, JF 1988Statistical Ecology: A Primer on Methods and ComputingWiley-InterscienceNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    McMahon, JA, Schimpf, DJ (1981) “Water as a factor in the biology of North American desert plants.” In: Evans, DD, Thames, JL (Eds.), Water in Desert Systems, US/IBP Synthesis Series #11, Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, pp 114–171Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Noy-Meir, I 1973Desert ecosystems: environment and producers.Ann Rev Ecol Syst42541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Page, FC 1976An Illustrated Key to Freshwater and Soil AmoebaeFreshwater Biological Association, AmblesideCumbria, UKGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Page, FC 1988A New Key to Freshwater and Soil AmoebaeFreshwater Biological AssociationAmbleside, Cumbria, UKGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Patterson, DJ 1996Free-living Freshwater Protozoa: A Color GuideManson Publishing Ltd.LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Rainey, RE, Travesiano, M 1998Adaptive radiation in a heterogeneous environment.Nature3946972CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Rodriguez-Zaragoza, A, Garcia, S 1997Species richness and abundance of naked amebae in the rhizoplane of the desert plant Escontria chiotilla (cactaceae).J Euk Microbiol44122126Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Rodriguez-Zaragoza, S 1994Ecology of free-living amoebae.Crit Rev Microbiol20225241PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sarig, S, Barness, G, Steinberger, Y 1994Annual plant growth and soil characteristics under desert halophyte canopy.Oecologia (Berl)15521527Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sarig, S, Steinberger, Y 1994Microbial biomass response to seasonal fluctuation in soil salinity under the canopy of desert halophytes.Soil Biol Biochem2614051408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Steinberger, Y 1991Litter fall and nitrogen reabsorption in Zygophyllum dumosum in the Negev Desert.Isr J Bot403339Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Steinberger, Y, Degani, R, Barness, G 1995Decomposition of root litter and related microbial population dynamics of a Negev Desert shrub Zygophyllum dumosum.J Arid Environ31383399Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Steinberger, Y, Loboda, I 1991Nematode population dynamics and trophic structure in a soil profile under the canopy of the desert shrub Zygophyllum dumosum.Pedobiologia35191197Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Stirling, G, Wilsey, B 2001Empirical relationships between species richness, evenness and proportional diversity.Am Nat158286299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Tilman, D 1996Biodiversity: population versus ecosystem stability.Ecology50927929Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Vishnevetsky, S, Steinberger, Y 1997Bacterial and fungal dynamics and their contribution to microbial biomass in desert soil.J Arid Environ378390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Wilsey, BJ, Potvin, C 2000Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: the importance of species evenness and identity in a Quebec old field.Ecology81887893Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Rodriguez Zaragoza
    • 1
  • E. Mayzlish
    • 2
  • Y. Steinberger
    • 2
  1. 1.Lab. de Microbiología, Unidad de Biología Tecnología y Prototipos, Facultad de Estudios Superiores IztacalaUNAMTlalnepantlaMéxico
  2. 2.Faculty of Life SciencesBar-Ilan UniversityRamat-GanIsrael

Personalised recommendations