Vertical distribution of a soil microbial community as affected by plant ecophysiological adaptation in a desert system

G. Barness, S. Rodriguez Zaragoza, I. Shmueli, Y. Steinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

The spatial and temporal patterns of resource distribution in a desert system have been shown to influence a number of soil biota components and processes. The pattern of possible different resources supplied by two typical halophyte shrubs with different ecophysiological adaptations, Atriplex halimus and Hammada scoparia, was found to be the trigger in the present study on the microbial community temporal and spatial (vertical) scale. The uniqueness of A. halimus, a saltbush plant, is in the creation of 'islands of salinity' in its rhizosphere system and the relatively high percentage of organic matter beneath its canopy, whereas the H. scoparia shrub has a leafless stem with a relatively lower amount of organic matter accumulation beneath its canopy. Soil samples from 0 to 50 cm depths were collected at 10-cm intervals during each of the four seasons. The vertical distribution of the microbial community was measured in the vicinity of the above plant shrubs and in the open spaces between them. The results obtained from the field study demonstrated that plant ecophysiological adaptation played an important role in the temporal and spatial distribution of abiotic conditions and microbial community levels such as microbial biomass, CO2 evolution, and colony-forming units (CFUs) of both bacteria and fungi. However, we did not find consistency in the positive effect of plant cover on the microbial community. The shrub effect was observed to have a major outcome on microbial variables not only on a temporal but also on a spatial (vertical) basis. This contributed to the understanding of the controversy regarding the difference between the shrubs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-49
Number of pages14
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Volume57
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2009

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