1. bookVolume 69 (2021): Issue 4 (December 2021)
Journal Details
First Published
28 Mar 2009
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
access type Open Access

The role of biocrust-induced exopolymeric matrix in runoff generation in arid and semiarid zones – a mini review

Published Online: 15 Nov 2021
Volume & Issue: Volume 69 (2021) - Issue 4 (December 2021)
Page range: 360 - 368
Received: 24 Jun 2021
Accepted: 27 Aug 2021
Journal Details
First Published
28 Mar 2009
Publication timeframe
4 times per year

Although playing an important role in shaping the environment, the mechanisms responsible for runoff initiation and yield in arid and semiarid regions are not yet fully explored. With infiltration-excess overland flow, known also as Hortonian overland flow (HOF) taking place in these areas, the uppermost surface ‘skin’ plays a cardinal role in runoff initiation and yield. Over large areas, this skin is composed of biocrusts, a variety of autotrophs (principally cyanobacteria, green algae, lichens, mosses) accompanied by heterotrophs (such as fungi, bacteria, archaea), which may largely dictate the infiltration capability of the surface. With most biocrust organisms being capable of excreting extracellular polymeric substances (EPS or exopolymers), and growing evidence pointing to the capability of certain EPS to partially seal the surface, EPS may play a cardinal role in hindering infiltration and triggering HOF. Yet, despite this logic thread, great controversy still exists regarding the main mechanisms responsible for runoff generation (runoff initiation and yield). Elucidation of the possible role played by EPS in runoff generation is the focus of the current review.


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