Coastal environments shape chemical and microbial properties of forest litters in circum Mediterranean region


  • Borsali A.
  • Lerch T.Z.
  • Besbes R.
  • Gros Raphaël
  • Laffont-Schwob Isabelle
  • Boudenne Jean Luc
  • Ziarelli F.
  • Pando A.
  • Farnet da Silva Anne Marie


  • Extracellular enzyme activities
  • Litter microbial communities
  • Mediterranean area
  • Water potential stress

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This study explores how chemical and microbial properties of litters can be affected by coastal environments across the Mediterranean basin. A litterbag experiment including Pinus halepensis Mill. and Pistacia lentiscus L., collected from both inland and coastal areas was set up in France, Greece and Algeria. Control litterbags were left in their sampling sites and a transfer of litterbags from inland to coastal area was performed to test whether the effect of the specific constraints of coastal environments varies according to the country and the litter type. After 10 months, litter chemical composition (CP/MAS 13 C-NMR) and microbial activities (cellulase, respiration, Biolog) and structure (TRFLP) were analysed. Coastal conditions led to various responses: i) litter aromaticity differed in the coastal zones depending on the country (high in Greek coastal area, low in Algerian coastal zone), ii) less functionally-diversified microbial communities were found in Greek coastal area compared to French and Algerian coasts, iii) genetic diversity and richness were strongly impacted after transfer to the coastal zone whatever the country. The type of litter shaped microbial communities: i) at a local scale i.e. in either coastal or inland area, catabolic profiles and cellulase activities varied with the plant species, ii) at a regional scale, the effect of coastal conditions differed with the plant species (basal respiration, Shannon-Weaver index, catabolic diversity H', cellulases and catabolic profiles). Thus, litter microbial properties differed in coastal environments across the Mediterranean basin and plant litter type plays a major role in microbial properties at large spatial scale.

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