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Title: Environmental Selection, Dispersal, and Organism Interactions Shape Community Assembly in High-Throughput Enrichment Culturing

A central goal of microbial ecology is to identify and quantify the forces that lead to observed population distributions and dynamics. However, these forces, which include environmental selection, dispersal, and organism interactions, are often difficult to assess in natural environments. Here in this paper, we present a method that links microbial community structures with selective and stochastic forces through highly replicated subsampling and enrichment of a single environmental inoculum. Specifically, groundwater from a well-studied natural aquifer was serially diluted and inoculated into nearly 1,000 aerobic and anaerobic nitrate-reducing cultures, and the final community structures were evaluated with 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. We analyzed the frequency and abundance of individual operational taxonomic units (OTUs) to understand how probabilistic immigration, relative fitness differences, environmental factors, and organismal interactions contributed to divergent distributions of community structures. We further used a most probable number (MPN) method to estimate the natural condition-dependent cultivable abundance of each of the nearly 400 OTU cultivated in our study and infer the relative fitness of each. Additionally, we infer condition-specific organism interactions and discuss how this high-replicate culturing approach is essential in dissecting the interplay between overlapping ecological forces and taxon-specific attributes that underpin microbial community assembly. IMPORTANCEThroughmore » highly replicated culturing, in which inocula are subsampled from a single environmental sample, we empirically determine how selective forces, interspecific interactions, relative fitness, and probabilistic dispersal shape bacterial communities. These methods offer a novel approach to untangle not only interspecific interactions but also taxon-specific fitness differences that manifest across different cultivation conditions and lead to the selection and enrichment of specific organisms. Additionally, we provide a method for estimating the number of cultivable units of each OTU in the original sample through the MPN approach.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [3] ; ORCiD logo [4]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  2. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  4. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 83; Journal Issue: 20; Journal ID: ISSN 0099-2240
American Society for Microbiology
Research Org:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; 16S RNA; community assembly; enrichment culturing; microbial ecology
OSTI Identifier: