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Resource-dependent attenuation of species interactions during bacterial succession

Rivett, DW and Scheuerl, T and Culbert, CT and Mombrikotb, SB and Johnstone, E and Barraclough, TG and Bell, T (2016) Resource-dependent attenuation of species interactions during bacterial succession. The ISME Journal, 10 (9). pp. 2259-2268. ISSN 1751-7362

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Abstract

Bacterial communities are vital for many economically and ecologically important processes. The role of bacterial community composition in determining ecosystem functioning depends critically on interactions among bacterial taxa. Several studies have shown that, despite a predominance of negative interactions in communities, bacteria are able to display positive interactions given the appropriate evolutionary or ecological conditions. We were interested in how interspecific interactions develop over time in a naturalistic setting of low resource supply rates. We assembled aquatic bacterial communities in microcosms and assayed the productivity (respiration and growth) and substrate degradation while tracking community composition. The results demonstrated that while bacterial communities displayed strongly negative interactions during the early phase of colonisation and acclimatisation to novel biotic and abiotic factors, this antagonism declined over time towards a more neutral state. This was associated with a shift from use of labile substrates in early succession to use of recalcitrant substrates later in succession, confirming a crucial role of resource dynamics in linking interspecific interactions with ecosystem functioning.

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