Microbiome of Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad. Reveals a Potential Association with Non-Photosynthetic Cyanobacteria

Miranda Procter, Biduth Kundu, Naganeeswaran Sudalaimuthuasari, Raja S. AlMaskari, Esam E. Saeed, Khaled M. Hazzouri, Khaled M.A. Amiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Citrullus colocynthis grows in the sandy desert soil of the Arabian Peninsula with limited access to water, aside from occasional precipitation or dew. Understanding its ability to produce water-filled fruit and nutrient-rich seeds despite the harsh environment, can be useful for agricultural applications. However, information regarding the microbiome of C. colocynthis is lacking. We hypothesized that C. colocynthis associates with bacteria that aid its survival, like what has been observed in other desert plants. Here, we used 16S rRNA gene data to gain insight into the microbiome of C. colocynthis to identify its associated bacteria. In total, 9818 and 6983 OTUs were generated from root, soil, and leaf samples combined. Overall, bulk soils had the highest alpha diversity, followed by rhizosphere and root zone soils. Furthermore, C. colocynthis is associated with known plant-growth-promoting bacteria (including Acidobacteria, Bacterioidetes, and Actinobacteria), and interestingly a class of non-photosynthetic Cyanobacteria (Melainabacteria) that is more abundant on the inside and outside of the root surface than control samples, suggesting its involvement in the rhizophagy process. This study will provide a foundation for functional studies to further understand how C. colocynthis-microbes interactions help them grow in the desert, paving the path for possible agricultural applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2083
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • colocynth
  • desert flora
  • desert soil composition
  • microbiome profiling
  • rhizophagy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology


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