Defining the functional traits that drive bacterial decomposer community productivity

TitleDefining the functional traits that drive bacterial decomposer community productivity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsEvans R, Alessi AM, Bird S, McQueen-Mason SJ, Bruce NC, Brockhurst MA
JournalIsme Journal
Date PublishedJul
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1751-7362
Accession NumberWOS:000403675200015
Keywordsbiodiversity, biofuels, challenges, diversity, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, lignocellulose, microbial community, Microbiology, plant-communities, resource, soil

Microbial communities are essential to a wide range of ecologically and industrially important processes. To control or predict how these communities function, we require a better understanding of the factors which influence microbial community productivity. Here, we combine functional resource use assays with a biodiversity-ecosystem functioning (BEF) experiment to determine whether the functional traits of constituent species can be used to predict community productivity. We quantified the abilities of 12 bacterial species to metabolise components of lignocellulose and then assembled these species into communities of varying diversity and composition to measure their productivity growing on lignocellulose, a complex natural substrate. A positive relationship between diversity and community productivity was caused by a selection effect whereby more diverse communities were more likely to contain two species that significantly improved community productivity. Analysis of functional traits revealed that the observed selection effect was primarily driven by the abilities of these species to degrade beta-glucan. Our results indicate that by identifying the key functional traits underlying microbial community productivity we could improve industrial bioprocessing of complex natural substrates.

Alternate JournalIsme J.