The complex interplay of habitat filtering, neutral assembly and ecological interactions in the determination of bacterial community-level function.

Speaker: Alberto Pascual-GarcĂ­a , Department of Life Sciences, Silwood Park, Imperial College London

When: July 19, 2017 (Wed), 04:00PM to 05:00PM (add to my calendar)
Location: SCI 328

This event is part of the Biophysics Seminars. 12:30PM.

Understanding the determinants shaping bacterial community-level function is one of the most important challenges in microbial research. There is still no consensus on the relative importance of functional redundancy and complementarity at the species level, how important rare species are to predict community function, or which are the most important ecological processes shaping microbial assembly, among other questions. Here, I present a large-scale analysis of communities sampled from tree-holes from different locations in the UK, aiming to shed light on some of these questions. We found one of the strongest signals of a distance-decay pattern for the similarity of the microbial communities reported up to date. Interestingly, it is possible to split the communities into four groups according with their similarity and, despite of the strong signal of habitat filtering: i) three of these groups are compatible with a neutral assemblage hypothesis and ii) building networks through the analysis of the taxa abundances correlations, we consistently find the same cohesive clusters of taxa tightly packed through positive correlations in all four groups of samples. Moreover, the relative abundance of these cohesive clusters seem to determine the ability of other taxa to be present in the community. I will finally present ongoing results showing how we integrate the information obtained to predict community function through structural equation modelling, and I will discuss meeting points with bottom-up modelling, such as flux balance analysis.