Microbial Ecology

, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 659–668 | Cite as

Desert Perennial Shrubs Shape the Microbial-Community Miscellany in Laimosphere and Phyllosphere Space

  • Varsik Martirosyan
  • Adrian Unc
  • Gad Miller
  • Tirza Doniger
  • Chaim Wachtel
  • Yosef SteinbergerEmail author
Plant Microbe Interactions


Microbial function, composition, and distribution play a fundamental role in ecosystem ecology. The interaction between desert plants and their associated microbes is expected to greatly affect their response to changes in this harsh environment. Using comparative analyses, we studied the impact of three desert shrubs, Atriplex halimus (A), Artemisia herba-alba (AHA), and Hammada scoparia (HS), on soil- and leaf-associated microbial communities. DNA extracted from the leaf surface and soil samples collected beneath the shrubs were used to study associated microbial diversity using a sequencing survey of variable regions of bacterial 16S rRNA and fungal ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS1). We found that the composition of bacterial and fungal orders is plant-type-specific, indicating that each plant type provides a suitable and unique microenvironment. The different adaptive ecophysiological properties of the three plant species and the differential effect on their associated microbial composition point to the role of adaptation in the shaping of microbial diversity. Overall, our findings suggest a link between plant ecophysiological adaptation as a “temporary host” and the biotic-community parameters in extreme xeric environments.


Desert ecosystem Microbial diversity Next-generation sequencing Phyllosphere Plant ecophysiological adaptation 



We wish to thank Ms. Sharon Victor for her helpful comments. This study was part of a research program funded by the UNESCO/Japan Young Researchers’ Fellowship Program, 2012 (UNESCO/Keizo Obuchi Research Fellowships Program), awarded to Dr. Varsik Martirosyan, and which covered her stay in Israel. The sponsor played no role in the study design, collection, analysis, data interpretation, writing of the paper, or the decision to submit it for publication.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


This study was part of a research program funded by the UNESCO/Japan Young Researchers’ Fellowship Program, 2012 (UNESCO/Keizo Obuchi Research Fellowships Program), awarded to Dr. Varsik Martirosyan, and which covered her stay in Israel.

Supplementary material

248_2016_822_MOESM1_ESM.docx (43 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 43 kb)
248_2016_822_MOESM2_ESM.docx (19 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Varsik Martirosyan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Adrian Unc
    • 3
  • Gad Miller
    • 1
  • Tirza Doniger
    • 1
  • Chaim Wachtel
    • 1
  • Yosef Steinberger
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life SciencesBar-Ilan UniversityRamat-GanIsrael
  2. 2.Life Sciences International Postgraduate Educational CenterYerevanArmenia
  3. 3.Boreal Ecosystems Research InitiativeMemorial University of NewfoundlandCorner BrookCanada

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