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Title: Integrating ecological and engineering concepts of resilience in microbial communities

We note that many definitions of resilience have been proffered for natural and engineered ecosystems, but a conceptual consensus on resilience in microbial communities is still lacking. Here, we argue that the disconnect largely results from the wide variance in microbial community complexity, which range from simple synthetic consortia to complex natural communities, and divergence between the typical practical outcomes emphasized by ecologists and engineers. Viewing microbial communities as elasto-plastic systems, we argue that this gap between the engineering and ecological definitions of resilience stems from their respective emphases on elastic and plastic deformation, respectively. We propose that the two concepts may be fundamentally united around the resilience of function rather than state in microbial communities and the regularity in the relationship between environmental variation and a community’s functional response. Furthermore, we posit that functional resilience is an intrinsic property of microbial communities, suggesting that state changes in response to environmental variation may be a key mechanism driving resilience in microbial communities.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States). Biological Sciences Division
  2. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States). Environmental Molecular Sciences Lab.
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1664-302X; KP1601010
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Microbiology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 1664-302X
Frontiers Research Foundation
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; microbial communities; microbial ecology; resilience; resistance; robustness; stability; networks
OSTI Identifier: