Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Microbial Societies Do Not Like Oligarchy

Date:
March 18, 2009
Source:
Università degli Studi di Milano
Summary:
Bacteria and humans tend to live in highly diverse and complex communities. Most interestingly, bacteria and humans appear to prefer to live in a democracy. A new article reports that initial high community evenness is a key factor in preserving functional stability of an ecosystem in the face of selective stress.

Bacteria and humans tend to live in highly diverse and complex communities. Most interestingly, bacteria and humans appear to prefer to live in a democracy. This is the basic message of a new article in Nature. The article reports that initial high community evenness is a key factor in preserving functional stability of an ecosystem in the face of selective stress.

The research has been performed by a consortium of five groups from two Universities in Belgium and Italy, respectively and coordinated by Dr. Lieven Wittebolle, Dr. Massimo Marzorati and Prof. Nico Boon from Ghent University. The research has been performed in collaboration with the research teams of Dr. Lieven Clement, Prof. De Vos and Prof. Verstraete from Ghent University and Prof. Daniele Daffonchio from the University of Milan.

Owing to the present global biodiversity crisis, the biodiversity–stability relationship and the effect of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning have become major topics in ecology. The research is part of a project having as a final objective the understanding of the major factors necessary to steer and engineer microbial communities to obtain stable and reliable biotechnological processes, which are needed in environmental and medical sciences. It has been stated that, for the next decades, the microbial ecologists and environmental microbiologists have to focus on microbial resource management (MRM) to properly manage complex microbial systems. They should address a new mindset based on well-documented concepts, reliable tools and a set of default values.

Biodiversity is a complex term that includes taxonomic, functional, spatial and temporal aspects of organismic diversity, with species richness (the number of species) and evenness (the relative abundance of species) considered among the most important measures. Using experimental microcosms with bacterial communities, this paper shows that initial community evenness is a key factor in preserving the functional stability of an ecosystem.

In particular, it demonstrated that a community must have an even distribution among its functional redundant members if it is to respond rapidly to selective stress. In fact, when an ecosystem function in a highly uneven community depends strongly on the dominant species, the functional stability is endangered by environmental fluctuations. In other words, a too strong selection that leads to the dominance of one or a few species will not guarantee a good performing ecosystem.

This finding can have important implications and new opportunities for scientists working in domains such as applied and fundamental environmental sciences, food science and even medical microbiology. Current molecular techniques could be used to predict ecosystem function failure and to manage biotechnological technologies with mixed microbial communities for a long-standing performance.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Università degli Studi di Milano. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wittebolle et al. Initial community evenness favours functionality under selective stress. Nature, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/nature07840

Cite This Page:

Università degli Studi di Milano. "Microbial Societies Do Not Like Oligarchy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312093914.htm>.
Università degli Studi di Milano. (2009, March 18). Microbial Societies Do Not Like Oligarchy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312093914.htm
Università degli Studi di Milano. "Microbial Societies Do Not Like Oligarchy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312093914.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) — A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins