Soil Research Soil Research Society
Soil, land care and environmental research

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This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

Perennials but not slope aspect effect the diversity of soil bacterial communities in the northern Negev Desert (Israel)

Ahuva Vonshak , Menachem Sklarz , Ann Hirsch , Osnat Gillor


Underneath the canopy of perennials in arid regions, moderate soil temperature and evaporation as well as plant litter create islands of higher fertility in the low-productivity landscape, named resource island. The sparse distribution of these fertility or resource islands is mirrored by soil microbial communities, which mediate a large number of biogeochemical transformations underneath the plants. We explored the link between the bacterial community composition and two prevalent desert shrubs, Zygophyllum dumosum and Artemisia herba-alba, on northern- and southern-facing slopes in the Negev Desert northern highlands, at the end of a mild rainy season. We sequence analyzed the bacterial community and the physicochemical properties of the soil under the shrubs’ canopy and from barren soil in replicate slopes. The soil bacterial diversity was independent of slope aspect, but differed according to shrub presence or type. Links between soil bacterial community composition and their associated desert shrubs were found, enabling us to link bacterial diversity with shrub type or barren soils. Our results suggest that plants and their associated bacterial communities are connected to survival and persistence under the harsh desert conditions

SR17010  Accepted 25 July 2017

© CSIRO 2017