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Title: Frequency of disturbance alters diversity, function, and underlying assembly mechanisms of complex bacterial communities
Authors: Santillan, Ezequiel
Seshan, Hari
Constancias, Florentin
Drautz-Moses, Daniela I.
Wuertz, Stefan
Keywords: Microbial Ecology
DRNTU::Science::Biological sciences::Microbiology
Water Microbiology
Issue Date: 2019
Source: Santillan, E., Seshan, H., Constancias, F., Drautz-Moses, D. I., & Wuertz, S. (2019). Frequency of disturbance alters diversity, function, and underlying assembly mechanisms of complex bacterial communities. npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, 5(1). doi:10.1038/s41522-019-0079-4
Series/Report no.: npj Biofilms and Microbiomes
Abstract: Disturbance is known to affect the ecosystem structure, but predicting its outcomes remains elusive. Similarly, community diversity is believed to relate to ecosystem functions, yet the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we tested the effect of disturbance on the structure, assembly, and ecosystem function of complex microbial communities within an engineered system. We carried out a microcosm experiment where activated sludge bioreactors operated in daily cycles were subjected to eight different frequency levels of augmentation with a toxic pollutant, from never (undisturbed) to every day (press-disturbed), for 35 days. Microbial communities were assessed by combining distance-based methods, general linear multivariate models, α-diversity indices, and null model analyses on metagenomics and 16S rRNA gene amplicon data. A stronger temporal decrease in α-diversity at the extreme, undisturbed and press-disturbed, ends of the disturbance range led to a hump-backed pattern, with the highest diversity found at intermediate levels of disturbance. Undisturbed and press-disturbed levels displayed the highest community and functional similarity across replicates, suggesting deterministic processes were dominating. The opposite was observed amongst intermediately disturbed levels, indicating stronger stochastic assembly mechanisms. Trade-offs were observed in the ecosystem function between organic carbon removal and both nitrification and biomass productivity, as well as between diversity and these functions. Hence, not every ecosystem function was favoured by higher community diversity. Our results show that the assessment of changes in diversity, along with the underlying stochastic–deterministic assembly processes, is essential to understanding the impact of disturbance in complex microbial communities.
ISSN: 2055-5008
DOI: 10.1038/s41522-019-0079-4
Rights: © 2019 The Author(s). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
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