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Phospholipid Fatty Acid Profiles As Indicators For The Microbial Community Structure In Soils Along A Climatic Transect In The Judean Desert

Y. Steinberger, L. Zelles, Q. Y. Bai, Margit von Lützow, J. C. Munch
Published 1999 · Biology

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Abstract Analyses of phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) were used to assess variations in soil microbial biodiversity, community structure and biomass, and consequently, the soil microbial successions in time along the climate gradient of the Judean Desert. Principal component analysis of the PLFA data revealed that the degree of time- and space-related variations in PLFA composition and microbial community structure was high among the desert habitats. Significant shifts of specific groups of fatty acids caused by climatic variations were observed. The biomass represented by the total amounts of PLFAs indicated that the greater the average amount of precipitation, the higher the biomass. The results indicate that at least three different microorganism strategies were probably followed: (1) in soils with a high biomass during the rainy period, a significant biomass decrease occurred during the dry period, mainly due to an extraordinary decrease of Gram-negative bacteria as indicated by the decrease of typical monounsaturated fatty acids and hydroxy-substituted phospholipid fatty acids in semi-arid climates; (2) in soils with low biomass content during the rainy period, a significant increase of biomass during the dry period occurred, due mainly to the increase of eukaryotes, Gram-positive, and Gram-negative bacteria characterized by polyunsaturated, branched chain and some of the monounsaturated fatty acids, respectively; and (3) relatively low and constant biomass during the entire observation period in the more arid zones of the Judean Desert.
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