Biocrust-inhabiting cultured microfungi along a dune catena in the western Negev Desert, Israel

Isabella Grishkan, Giora J. Kidron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the variations in microfungal communities inhabiting 5 biocrust types (4 cyanobacterial, A-D, and one moss-dominated, E) along a north-facing dune catena at the Nizzana research station (NRS) in the western Negev Desert, Israel. The crusts characterizing by variable abiotic conditions showed an increase in chlorophyll content (A<B<C<D<E) correlated positively and negatively with surface wetness duration and irradiance intensity, respectively. A total of 78 microfungal species from 48 genera was isolated using the soil dilution plate method. Similar to other Negev regions, the NRS microfungal communities were dominated by melanin-containing species with large, multi-celled conidia. Abundance of this xeric group increased toward the more xeric crusts, while mesic Penicillium spp. and Mucoromycotina displayed the opposite trend. Density of microfungal isolates positively correlated with chlorophyll content indicating possible significant influence of organic matter content and wetness duration on fungal biomass. The moss dominated crust differed markedly from the cyanobacterial crusts on species relative abundances, diversity level, and isolate density. The study showed a similarity between the variations in crust microfungal communities within a dune catena at NRS and along the precipitation gradient in Negev, implying that microclimatic differences and regional climatic variability may have a comparable effect on microfungi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Biology
StatePublished - May 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Israeli Ministry of Absorption for financial support of this research.


  • Biological soil crusts
  • Chlorophyll content
  • Dune catena
  • Microfungal communities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Soil Science
  • Insect Science


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