Jackson's new paper is out: dormancy, dispersal and resilience

The final chapter of MMG graduate Jackson Sorensen's dissertation has been published online today in a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Academy B: theme issue on ‘Conceptual challenges in microbial community ecology’

The final chapter of MMG graduate Jackson Sorensen's dissertation has been published online today in a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Academy B: theme issue on ‘Conceptual challenges in microbial community ecology’ edited by Jim Prosser and Jennifer Martiny.  We're thrilled to be part of this issue!

We're also excited that NatSci communications prepared a nice press release about the work!  The work was even mentioned on NatSci's March Rewind podcast.

Dormancy dynamics and dispersal contribute to soil microbiome resilience

by Jackson W. Sorensen and Ashley Shade

Abstract

In disturbance ecology, stability is composed of resistance to change and resilience towards recovery after the disturbance subsides. Two key microbial mechanisms that can support microbiome stability include dormancy and dispersal. Specifically, microbial populations that are sensitive to disturbance can be re-seeded by local dormant pools of viable and reactivated cells, or by immigrants dispersed from regional metacommunities. However, it is difficult to quantify the contributions of these mechanisms to stability without, first, distinguishing the active from inactive membership, and, second, distinguishing the populations recovered by local resuscitation from those recovered by dispersed immigrants. Here, we investigate the contributions of dormancy dynamics (activation and inactivation), and dispersal to soil microbial community resistance and resilience. We designed a replicated, 45-week time-series experiment to quantify the responses of the active soil microbial community to a thermal press disturbance, including unwarmed control mesocosms, disturbed mesocosms without dispersal, and disturbed mesocosms with dispersal after the release of the stressor. Communities changed in structure within one week of warming. Though the disturbed mesocosms did not fully recover within 29 weeks, resuscitation of thermotolerant taxa was key for community transition during the press, and both resuscitation of opportunistic taxa and immigration contributed to community resilience. Also, mesocosms with dispersal were more resilient than mesocosms without. This work advances the mechanistic understanding of how microbiomes respond to disturbances in their environment.

 

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