Saline water irrigation has been used in date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) agriculture as an alternative to non-saline water due to water scarcity in hyper-arid environments. However, the knowledge pertaining to saline water irrigation impact on the root-associated bacterial communities of arid agroecosystems is scarce. In this study, we investigated the effect of irrigation sources (non-saline freshwater vs saline groundwater) on date palm root-associated bacterial communities using 16S rDNA metabarcoding. The bacterial richness, Shannon diversity and evenness didn’t differ significantly between the irrigation sources. Soil electrical conductivity (EC) and irrigation water pH were negatively related to Shannon diversity and evenness respectively, while soil organic matter displayed a positive correlation with Shannon diversity. 40.5% of total Operational Taxonomic Units were unique to non-saline freshwater irrigation, while 26% were unique to saline groundwater irrigation. The multivariate analyses displayed strong structuring of bacterial communities according to irrigation sources, and both soil EC and irrigation water pH were the major factors affecting bacterial communities. The genera Bacillus, Micromonospora and Mycobacterium were dominated while saline water irrigation whereas contrasting pattern was observed for Rhizobium, Streptomyces and Acidibacter. Taken together, we suggest that date-palm roots select specific bacterial taxa under saline groundwater irrigation, which possibly help in alleviating salinity stress and promote growth of the host plant.
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