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Plenary Lecture 17: Micro-scale biological interactions shape microbial community dynamics on marine particles

Friday 12th September 2014 - 11:55 to 12:30
INI Seminar Room 1
Particulate organic matter in aquatic environments represents a major source of nutrients for heterotrophic bacteria. To access these nutrients microbial communities need to assemble on particles and, once the ecological opportunity expires, disassemble to start migration and colonization of new nutrient sources. Because of the enormous diversity of microbes in the environment, this process is likely to involve a large number of species interacting at different points during assembly and disassembly. Using a model system based on chitin-associated communities from the coastal ocean, I will discuss ongoing work aimed at studying community assembly on particles as the behavior of a multi-species system, which we attempt to reconstruct with a combination of computational and experimental tools. Our results show that community assembly on chitin involves the fast succession of a large number of species. These complex dynamics are not driven by changes in substrates, but by local biological interactions and ecological trade-offs which structure communities at micro-meter scales. Overall, this study shows that ecological interactions impose strong selective pressures on particle-attached communities and in that micro-scale ecological processes can have a large impact on global ecosystem processes.
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University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons