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Pedosphere
Year: 2007  |  Volume: 17  |  Issue: 6  |  Page No.: 758 - 765

Soil Microbial Population in the Vicinity of the Bean Caper (Zygophyllum dumosum) Root Zone in a Desert System

I. SHMUELI, G. BARNESS and Y. STEINBERGER    

Abstract: The aim of the current study was to gain a better understanding of the changes in soil microbial biomass and basal respiration dynamics in the vicinity of the bean caper (Zygophyllum dumosum) perennial desert shrub and the inter-shrub sites. Microbial biomasses as well as basal respiration were found to be significantly greater in the soil samples taken beneath the Z. dumosum shrubs than from the inter-shrub sampling sites, with no differences between the two sampling layers (0-10 and 10-20 cm) throughout the study period. However, seasonal changes were observed due to autumn dew formation, which significantly affected microbial biomass and basal respiration in the upper-layer inter-shrub locations. The calculated metabolic coeffcient (qCO2) revealed significant differences between the two sampling sites as well as between the two soil layers, elucidating the abiotic effect between the sites throughout the study period. The substrate availability index was found to significantly demonstrate the differences between the two sites, elucidating the significant contribution of Z. dumosum in food source availability and in moderating harsh abiotic components. The importance of basal microbial parameters and the derived indices as tools demonstrated the importance and need for basic knowledge in understanding plant-soil interactions determined by an unpredictable and harsh desert environment.

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