Influence of dormancy on microbial competition under intermittent substrate supply: insights from model simulations


Most natural environments are characterized by frequent changes of their abiotic conditions. Microorganisms can respond to such changes by switching their physiological state between activity and dormancy allowing them to endure periods of unfavorable abiotic conditions. As a consequence, the competitiveness of microbial species is not simply determined by their growth performance under favorable conditions but also by their ability and readiness to respond to periods of unfavorable environmental conditions. The present study investigates the relevance of factors controlling the abundance and activity of individual bacterial species competing for an intermittently supplied substrate. For this purpose, numerical experiments were performed addressing the response of microbial systems to regularly applied feeding pulses. Simulation results show that community dynamics may exhibit a non-trivial link to the frequency of the external constraints and that for a certain combination of these environmental conditions coexistence of species is possible. The ecological implication of our results is that even non-dominant, neglected species can have a strong influence on realized species composition of dominant key species, due to their invisible presence enable the coexistence between important key species and by this affecting provided function of the system.


Link to centre authors: Fetzer, Ingo
Publication info: Stolpovsky, K., I. Fetzer, P. Van Cappellen, M. Thullner. 2016. Influence of dormancy on microbial competition under intermittent substrate supply: Insights from model simulations. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 92: 1 – 10


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