Soil Bacterial Community of Medicinal Plant Rhizosphere in a Mediterranean System

Yosef Steinberger, Tirza Doniger, Chen Sherman, Mareeswaran Jeyaraman, Itaii Applebaum

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Several attempts have been made to evaluate the abundance and distribution of the bacterial community in the rhizosphere of medicinal plants. Many describe information based on an estimation of the community structure and the effects of plant cover in determining microbial community composition. The ability of plants to specifically shape their microbial community in general and medicinal plants in particular is largely unknown. With the arrival of molecular biology, understanding the microbial community’s composition, diversity, and function became possible. We hypothesized that microbial communities associated with medicinal shrubs would differ from each other. To test this hypothesis, we characterized the soil microbial composition under each of five Mediterranean medicinal plants, differentiated by their medicinal use and ecophysiological adaptation, namely, Salvia fruticosa, Pistacia lentiscus, Myrtus communis, Origanum syriacum, and Teucrium capitatum, and an open-space bare soil between the plants, inhabiting natural ecosystems characterized by similar climatic conditions typical of a Mediterranean environment. The results demonstrated the importance of plant ecophysiological adaptations, which play an important role in determining microbial community composition and functional diversity. The intensity of a plant’s response to its surroundings can have either positive or negative effects that will determine the microbial community composition and interactions among the belowground parts. A total of 11 phyla, 21 orders, and 409 genera were found in the soil rhizosphere in the vicinity of the four plants and open space samples. The distinguishing attributes of each shrub trigger and stimulate the microbial community’s rhizosphere. This results in distinct patterns of bacterial diversity and functionality between the different shrubs and the control. The rhizosphere bacterial community composition differed between the plants in a PERMANOVA test, but there was little difference in terms of phyla and order relative abundances. This study shows how five medicinal plants, coexisting in a common habitat, impact the bacterial community. The noticeable shift in bacterial composition further supports our discovery that root exudates effectively govern the makeup of soil bacterial communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number664
JournalAgriculture (Switzerland)
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024

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  • diversity
  • microbial community
  • natural system
  • rhizosphere


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