5 years ago

Assembly of microbial communities in replicate nutrient-cycling model ecosystems follows divergent trajectories, leading to alternate stable states

Rosalind J. Allen, Fiona Strathdee, Jana Schwarz-Linek, Timothy Bush, Kristin Vassileva, Andrew Free, Richard A. Blythe, Catherine G. Mills, Eulyn Pagaling
We studied in detail the reproducibility of community development in replicate nutrient-cycling microbial microcosms that were set up identically and allowed to develop under the same environmental conditions. Multiple replicate closed microcosms were constructed using pond sediment and water, enriched with cellulose and sulphate, and allowed to develop over several months under constant environmental conditions, after which their microbial communities were characterized using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Our results show that initially similar microbial communities can follow alternative – yet stable – trajectories, diverging in time in a system size-dependent manner. The divergence between replicate communities increased in time and decreased with larger system size. In particular, notable differences emerged in the heterotrophic degrader communities in our microcosms; one group of steady state communities was enriched with Firmicutes, while the other was enriched with Bacteroidetes. The communities dominated by these two phyla also contained distinct populations of sulphate-reducing bacteria. This biomodality in community composition appeared to arise during recovery from a low-diversity state that followed initial cellulose degradation and sulphate reduction.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13849

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