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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2015 Mar;39(2):203-21. doi: 10.1093/femsre/fuu011. Epub 2015 Jan 23.

Microbial ecology of hot desert edaphic systems.

Author information

1
Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics, Department of Genetics, Natural Sciences 2, University of Pretoria, Hatfield, Pretoria 0028, South Africa.
2
Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics, Department of Genetics, Natural Sciences 2, University of Pretoria, Hatfield, Pretoria 0028, South Africa don.cowan@up.ac.za.

Abstract

A significant proportion of the Earth's surface is desert or in the process of desertification. The extreme environmental conditions that characterize these areas result in a surface that is essentially barren, with a limited range of higher plants and animals. Microbial communities are probably the dominant drivers of these systems, mediating key ecosystem processes. In this review, we examine the microbial communities of hot desert terrestrial biotopes (including soils, cryptic and refuge niches and plant-root-associated microbes) and the processes that govern their assembly. We also assess the possible effects of global climate change on hot desert microbial communities and the resulting feedback mechanisms. We conclude by discussing current gaps in our understanding of the microbiology of hot deserts and suggest fruitful avenues for future research.

KEYWORDS:

biological soil crusts; community dynamics; deserts; global change; hypoliths; soil

PMID:
25725013
DOI:
10.1093/femsre/fuu011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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