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Curr Microbiol. 2013 Mar;66(3):227-35. doi: 10.1007/s00284-012-0261-x. Epub 2012 Nov 11.

Variability of bacterial community composition on leaves between and within plant species.

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Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, 31905, Haifa, Israel.


The phyllosphere is one of the largest habitats for terrestrial microorganisms. To gain a better insight into the factors underlying the composition of bacterial communities inhabiting leaf surfaces we performed culture-dependent and independent (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis) analyses on the bacteria associated with the leaves of three plant species: Amygdalus communis, Citrus paradisi, and Nicotiana glauca. We found that the culturable classes Bacilli and Actinobacteria were the predominant classes on the phyllosphere of all three plant species. In contrast to this consistency on the bacterial class level, we found a significant variation on the bacterial species-level based on the culturable methods. Although some variation was detected among individual plants within one plant species, the inter-specific variability exceeded the intra-specific variability. C. paradisi leaf surface had the highest predicted total species richness (Chao 2 and ICE) and the highest species diversity (βw) among the three plant species. Our findings demonstrate that environmental conditions, mainly the plant species within a site, govern the bacterial community composition on leaf surfaces.

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