Polz Lab
Microbial Ecology and Evolution

Publications

TitleFunction and functional redundancy in microbial systems.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year2018
AuthorsLouca S, Polz MF, Mazel F, Albright MB, Huber JA, O'Connor MI, Ackermann M, Hahn AS, Srivastava DS, Crowe SA, Doebeli M, Parfrey LW
JournalNat Ecol Evol
Date2018 Apr 16
ISSN2397-334X
Abstract

Microbial communities often exhibit incredible taxonomic diversity, raising questions regarding the mechanisms enabling species coexistence and the role of this diversity in community functioning. On the one hand, many coexisting but taxonomically distinct microorganisms can encode the same energy-yielding metabolic functions, and this functional redundancy contrasts with the expectation that species should occupy distinct metabolic niches. On the other hand, the identity of taxa encoding each function can vary substantially across space or time with little effect on the function, and this taxonomic variability is frequently thought to result from ecological drift between equivalent organisms. Here, we synthesize the powerful paradigm emerging from these two patterns, connecting the roles of function, functional redundancy and taxonomy in microbial systems. We conclude that both patterns are unlikely to be the result of ecological drift, but are inevitable emergent properties of open microbial systems resulting mainly from biotic interactions and environmental and spatial processes.

DOI10.1038/s41559-018-0519-1
Alternate JournalNat Ecol Evol
PubMed ID29662222
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