The role of cyanobacterial exopolysaccharides in structuring desert microbial crusts

Gideon Mazor, Giora J. Kidron, Ahuva Vonshak, Aharon Abeliovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

300 Scopus citations


Microbial crusts are present on surfaces of soils throughout the world. A key feature of these crusts in arid zones is the abundance of filamentous sheath-forming and polysaccharide-excreting cyanobacteria. Several isolates of cyanobacteria were prepared from crust samples (Nizzana sand dunes, north-western Negev Desert, Israel). Optimal growth conditions for two such isolates of Microcoleus sp. were defined, and the role of the excreted polysaccharides in affecting the hydrological properties of crust-covered sand dunes was studied. Experiments with the native crust microbial population demonstrated the possibility of net primary productivity at both-high relative air humidities and low moisture content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1996


  • Cyanobacteria
  • Exopolysaccharides
  • Microbial crust
  • Microcoleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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