Friday, January 6 2023
14:00 - 15:00

Alladi Ramakrishnan Hall

Microbial spatial dynamics over eco-evolutionary timescales

Anshuman Swain

Harvard University

Persistently diverse microbial communities are one of biology’s great puzzles. Using an agent-based modeling framework that accommodates high mutation rates and a continuum of species traits, this work looks at microbial communities in which antagonistic interactions occur via the production of, inhibition of, and vulnerability to toxins (e.g., antibiotics). The study reports that mutation size and mobility enhance microbial diversity and temporal persistence to extraordinarily high levels. These findings—including the discovery that the duration of the transient phase in community assembly provides a guide to equilibrial diversity—highlight the potentially critical role that antagonistic interactions play in promoting the diversity of bacterial systems. Such interactions, together with more frequently studied resource-driven interactions and spatial structure, may drive the enigmatic levels of biodiversity seen in microbial systems.

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