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

Varsik Martirosyan, Adrian Unc, Gad Miller, Tirza Doniger, Chaim Wachtel, Yosef Steinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-668
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number3
Early online date23 Jul 2016
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
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.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


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


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