Juan Keymer

University of Aysén, Chile

Ecological succession and the competition-colonization trade-off in microbial communities on-chip


To exploit locations or explore the landscape? This is the competition-colonization trade-off; a dichotomy at the core of ecological succession and a fundamental mechanism towards understanding fluxes in microbiome composition. Using microfluidic devices as structured bacterial habitats we show that Escherichia coli is a fugitive species, whereas Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a slower colonizer but superior competitor. We provide evidence highlighting the role of succession and the relevance of this trade-off in the community assembly of bacteria in spatially distributed patchy landscapes. Furthermore, aggregation-dependent priority effects enhance coexistence which is not possible in well-mixed environments. Our findings underscore the interplay between micron-scale landscape structure and dispersal in shaping biodiversity patterns in microbial ecosystems. Understanding this interplay is key to unleash the technological revolution of microbiome applications.

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