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Environmental Microbiology Team Demonstrate the Importance and Dynamic Behavior of Stochastic Processes in Controlling the Succession of Microbial Communities

Zhou Jizhong JoeOne of the ENIGMA goals is to map genotypes to phenotypes within an ecological context. In this study, a novel theoretical framework comprised of four different cases was developed for fluidic and non-fluidic ecosystems to conceptualize the relationships between stochasticity and ecological succession. We show that the succession of groundwater microbial communities in response to the nutrient amendment is primarily stochastic, but that the drivers controlling biodiversity and succession are dynamic rather than static. This is the first study to demonstrate the importance and dynamic behavior of stochastic processes in controlling the succession of microbial communities. By identifying the mechanisms controlling microbial community assembly and succession, this study makes a fundamental contribution to the mechanistic understanding essential for a predictive microbial ecology of many systems including microbiomes of natural and managed ecosystems.

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Zhou, J.-Z.; Y. Deng, P. Zhang, K. Xue, J. D. Van Nostrand, Y. Yang, Z. He, L. Wu, D. A. Stahl, T. C. Hazen, J. M Tiedje, and A. P. Arkin. (2014) Stochasticity, Succession, and Environmental Perturbations in a Fluidic Ecosystem. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1324044111