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Title: Stochastic Community Assembly: Does It Matter in Microbial Ecology?


Understanding the mechanisms controlling community diversity, functions, succession, and biogeography is a central, but poorly understood, topic in ecology, particularly in microbial ecology. Although stochastic processes are believed to play nonnegligible roles in shaping community structure, their importance relative to deterministic processes is hotly debated. The importance of ecological stochasticity in shaping microbial community structure is far less appreciated. Some of the main reasons for such heavy debates are the difficulty in defining stochasticity and the diverse methods used for delineating stochasticity. Here in this paper, we provide a critical review and synthesis of data from the most recent studies on stochastic community assembly in microbial ecology. We then describe both stochastic and deterministic components embedded in various ecological processes, including selection, dispersal, diversification, and drift. We also describe different approaches for inferring stochasticity from observational diversity patterns and highlight experimental approaches for delineating ecological stochasticity in microbial communities. In addition, we highlight research challenges, gaps, and future directions for microbial community assembly research.

 [1];  [2]
  1. Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States); Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Tsinghua Univ., Beijing (China)
  2. Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
National Science Foundation (NSF); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER); USDA
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231; SC0004601; EF-1065844
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 81; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 1092-2172
American Society for Microbiology
Country of Publication:
United States

Citation Formats

Zhou, Jizhong, and Ning, Daliang. Stochastic Community Assembly: Does It Matter in Microbial Ecology?. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1128/MMBR.00002-17.
Zhou, Jizhong, & Ning, Daliang. Stochastic Community Assembly: Does It Matter in Microbial Ecology?. United States.
Zhou, Jizhong, and Ning, Daliang. Wed . "Stochastic Community Assembly: Does It Matter in Microbial Ecology?". United States.
title = {Stochastic Community Assembly: Does It Matter in Microbial Ecology?},
author = {Zhou, Jizhong and Ning, Daliang},
abstractNote = {Understanding the mechanisms controlling community diversity, functions, succession, and biogeography is a central, but poorly understood, topic in ecology, particularly in microbial ecology. Although stochastic processes are believed to play nonnegligible roles in shaping community structure, their importance relative to deterministic processes is hotly debated. The importance of ecological stochasticity in shaping microbial community structure is far less appreciated. Some of the main reasons for such heavy debates are the difficulty in defining stochasticity and the diverse methods used for delineating stochasticity. Here in this paper, we provide a critical review and synthesis of data from the most recent studies on stochastic community assembly in microbial ecology. We then describe both stochastic and deterministic components embedded in various ecological processes, including selection, dispersal, diversification, and drift. We also describe different approaches for inferring stochasticity from observational diversity patterns and highlight experimental approaches for delineating ecological stochasticity in microbial communities. In addition, we highlight research challenges, gaps, and future directions for microbial community assembly research.},
doi = {10.1128/MMBR.00002-17},
journal = {Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews},
number = 4,
volume = 81,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {10}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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Cited by: 1100 works
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Figures / Tables:

Figure 1 Figure 1: Trends in studying community assembly mechanisms. The data shown are based on the annual number of articles on community assembly (any organisms, including microorganisms [inset]), articles on microbial community assembly, articles about only deterministic microbial assembly, and articles involving stochastic microbial assembly. We searched articles from 1990 tomore » 2016 in the Web of Science Core Collection database on 10 January 2017. To find articles on “community assembly,” we searched by topic “community assembly” and Indexes SCI-EXPANDED and ESCI. To find articles on “microbial assembly,” we searched by topic (microbi* or bacteri* or fungi or fungus or fungal or archaea* or protist or metazoa* or mycorrhiza) in addition to “community assembly.” For articles on “stochastic,” we searched by topic (neutral or stochast* or dispersal or migration or immigration or (priority effect) or (historical contingency) or drift or diversification or speciation) in articles on “microbial assembly.” For articles on “deterministic only,” we searched by topic (niche or deterministic or selection or filtering or competiti* or facilitati* or mutualism or predation or interaction) in articles on “microbial assembly,” except for those related to “stochastic.”« less

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