Neutral mechanisms and niche differentiation in steady-state insular microbial communities revealed by single cell analysis.
Environ Microbiol. 2018 Oct 05;:
Authors: Liu Z, Cichocki N, Hübschmann T, Süring C, Ofiţeru ID, Sloan WT, Grimm V, Müller S
In completely insular microbial communities, evolution of community structure cannot be shaped by the immigration of new members. Also, when those communities are run in steady-state, the influence of environmental factors on their assembly is reduced. Therefore, one would expect similar community structures under steady-state conditions. Yet, in parallel setups variability does occur. To reveal ecological mechanisms behind this phenomenon, five parallel reactors were studied at the single-cell level for about 100 generations and community structure variations were quantified by ecological measures. Whether community variability can be controlled was tested by implementing soft temperature stressors as potential synchronizers. The low slope of the log-normal rank-order abundance curves indicated a predominance of neutral mechanisms, i.e., where species identity plays no role. Variations in abundance ranks of subcommunities and increase in inter-community pairwise β-diversity over time support this. Niche differentiation was also observed, as indicated by steeper geometric-like rank-order abundance curves and increased numbers of correlations between abiotic and biotic parameters during initial adaptation and after disturbances. Still, neutral forces dominated community assembly. Our findings suggest that complex microbial communities in insular steady-state environments can be difficult to synchronize and maintained in their original or desired structure as they are non-equilibrium systems. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
PMID: 30289191 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]