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


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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Yosef Steinberger.

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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.

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Martirosyan, V., Unc, A., Miller, G. et al. Desert Perennial Shrubs Shape the Microbial-Community Miscellany in Laimosphere and Phyllosphere Space. Microb Ecol 72, 659–668 (2016).

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