We examined the variations in microfungal communities from different surface types (cyanobacterial crusts, lichen-dominated crusts, and noncrusted bare surface) at two different positions—north-oriented slope and sun-exposed plain in the Tabernas Desert, Spain. A total of 77 species from 46 genera was isolated using the soil dilution plate method. The studied mycobiota, similar to the majority of desert mycobiotas, was dominated by melanin-containing species. However, in the Tabernas crusts, unlike the studied crusts of the Negev Desert (Israel) and the Tengger Desert (China), melanized fungi with large multicellular spores were much less abundantly represented, while the thermotolerant group, Aspergillus spp., remarkably contributed to the communities’ structure. Density of microfungal isolates positively correlated with chlorophyll content indicating possible significant influence of organic matter content on fungal biomass. The variations in crust composition, biomass, and the position of habitats were accompanied by the variations in microfungal community structure, diversity level, and isolate densities, with the communities at the plain sun-exposed position being much less variable than the communities at the north-oriented position. The study shows that microclimatic and edaphic factors play an essential role in the development of crust and noncrust microfungal communities, and their structure can be a sensitive indicator of changing environmental conditions at a microscale.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgments: We thank the Israeli Ministry of Absorption for the financial support of this research.
We thank the Israeli Ministry of Absorption for the financial support of this research.
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Biological soil crusts
- Chlorophyll content
- Diversity level
- Microfungal communities
- Species composition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Soil Science
- Earth-Surface Processes