Drift dynamics in microbial communities and the effective community size

Sloan, W. T. , Nnaji, C. F., Lunn, M., Curtis, T. P., Colloms, S. D., Couto, J. M., Pinto, A. J., Connelly, S. and Rosser, S. J. (2021) Drift dynamics in microbial communities and the effective community size. Environmental Microbiology, (doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.15453) (In Press)

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Abstract

The structure and diversity of all open microbial communities are shaped by individual births, deaths, speciation and immigration events; the precise timings of these events are unknowable and unpredictable. This randomness is manifest as ecological drift in the population dynamics, the importance of which has been a source of debate for decades. There are theoretical reasons to suppose that drift would be imperceptible in large microbial communities, but this is at odds with circumstantial evidence that effects can be seen even in huge, complex communities. To resolve this dichotomy we need to observe dynamics in simple systems where key parameters, like migration, birth and death rates can be directly measured. We monitored the dynamics in the abundance of two genetically modified strains of Escherichia coli, with tuneable growth characteristics, that were mixed and continually fed into 10 identical chemostats. We demonstrated that the effects of demographic (non‐environmental) stochasticity are very apparent in the dynamics. However, they do not conform to the most parsimonious and commonly applied mathematical models, where each stochastic event is independent. For these simple models to reproduce the observed dynamics we need to invoke an “effective community size”, which is smaller than the census community size.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was funded by two UK, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grants, EP/H009604/1 and EP/K038885/1, and by a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technology for WTS.
Status:In Press
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pinto, Dr Ameet and Couto, Dr Jillian and Rosser, Professor Susan and Connelly, Dr Stephanie and Sloan, Professor William
Authors: Sloan, W. T., Nnaji, C. F., Lunn, M., Curtis, T. P., Colloms, S. D., Couto, J. M., Pinto, A. J., Connelly, S., and Rosser, S. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Infrastructure and Environment
Journal Name:Environmental Microbiology
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:1462-2912
ISSN (Online):1462-2920
Published Online:08 March 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
First Published:First published in Environmental Microbiology 2021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
163046Predicting the acclimatisation of microbial wastewater treatment communities as a function of the environment, random immigration, birth and deathWilliam SloanEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/H009604/1ENG - Infrastructure & Environment
190641Synthetic Biology applications to Water Supply and RemediationSteven BeaumontEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/K038885/1Research and Innovation Services