We studied the epiphytic yeast species of the plants of the Negev Desert and the Dead Sea region, Israel, which are considered one of the most extreme hyper-arid lands in the world. For this purpose, we developed isolation protocols; we performed morphological, cultural and molecular identification tests and compared yeast diversity between the locations and the plants. The composition of the yeast populations present in the study's plants underwent seasonal fluctuations, whereas differences in community compositions were significant within sites. The maximum number of species of yeast occurred in autumn and Cryptococcus spp. were predominant year round. The isolated yeast strains showed an unusual tolerance to extreme growth conditions, such as high temperatures (up to 72% viability at 50°C), lethal hydrogen peroxide and NaCl concentrations. These results suggest that epiphytic yeasts inhabit the plants of the Dead Sea region and the Negev Desert have a community structure that is unique to the plant species and have a high tolerance to the harsh conditions that enables them to adapt to an arid ecosystem.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)