Blog
About

  • Record: found
  • Abstract: found
  • Article: not found

Energy, ecology and the distribution of microbial life.

Read this article at

ScienceOpenPublisherPMC
Bookmark
      There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.

      Abstract

      Mechanisms that govern the coexistence of multiple biological species have been studied intensively by ecologists since the turn of the nineteenth century. Microbial ecologists in the meantime have faced many fundamental challenges, such as the lack of an ecologically coherent species definition, lack of adequate methods for evaluating population sizes and community composition in nature, and enormous taxonomic and functional diversity. The accessibility of powerful, culture-independent molecular microbiology methods offers an opportunity to close the gap between microbial science and the main stream of ecological theory, with the promise of new insights and tools needed to meet the grand challenges humans face as planetary engineers and galactic explorers. We focus specifically on resources related to energy metabolism because of their direct links to elemental cycling in the Earth's history, engineering applications and astrobiology. To what extent does the availability of energy resources structure microbial communities in nature? Our recent work on sulfur- and iron-oxidizing autotrophs suggests that apparently subtle variations in the concentration ratios of external electron donors and acceptors select for different microbial populations. We show that quantitative knowledge of microbial energy niches (population-specific patterns of energy resource use) can be used to predict variations in the abundance of specific taxa in microbial communities. Furthermore, we propose that resource ratio theory applied to micro-organisms will provide a useful framework for identifying how environmental communities are organized in space and time.

      Related collections

      Author and article information

      Affiliations
      [1 ] Department of Geosciences, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA. jlm80@psu.edu
      Journal
      Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci.
      Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
      The Royal Society
      1471-2970
      0962-8436
      Jul 19 2013
      : 368
      : 1622
      23754819
      rstb.2012.0383
      10.1098/rstb.2012.0383
      3685468

      Comments

      Comment on this article