Context-dependent dynamics lead to the assembly of functionally distinct microbial communities

TitleContext-dependent dynamics lead to the assembly of functionally distinct microbial communities
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsBittleston L.S, Gralka M., Leventhal G.E, Mizrahi I., Cordero O.X
JournalNature Communications
Date PublishedMar
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2041-1723
Accession NumberWOS:000522032300017
KeywordsBacteria, biodiversity, carnivorous pitcher plants, diversity, linking, patterns, Science & Technology - Other Topics, sp nov.

Niche construction through interspecific interactions can condition future community states on past ones. However, the extent to which such history dependency can steer communities towards functionally different states remains a subject of active debate. Using bacterial communities collected from wild pitchers of the carnivorous pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, we test the effects of history on composition and function across communities assembled in synthetic pitcher plant microcosms. We find that the diversity of assembled communities is determined by the diversity of the system at early, pre-assembly stages. Species composition is also contingent on early community states, not only because of differences in the species pool, but also because the same species have different dynamics in different community contexts. Importantly, compositional differences are proportional to differences in function, as profiles of resource use are strongly correlated with composition, despite convergence in respiration rates. Early differences in community structure can thus propagate to mature communities, conditioning their functional repertoire. Historical contingency can affect community composition and function, but the extent to which this occurs is unclear. Here the authors use pitcher plant microbial communities to demonstrate that community dynamics and key metabolic functions at equilibrium depend on history and initial composition.

Short TitleNat. Commun.Nat. Commun.
Alternate JournalNat. Commun.