Defined spatial structure stabilizes a synthetic multispecies bacterial community

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Hyun Jung KimRustem F Ismagilov

Abstract

This paper shows that for microbial communities, "fences make good neighbors." Communities of soil microorganisms perform critical functions: controlling climate, enhancing crop production, and remediation of environmental contamination. Microbial communities in the oral cavity and the gut are of high biomedical interest. Understanding and harnessing the function of these communities is difficult: artificial microbial communities in the laboratory become unstable because of "winner-takes-all" competition among species. We constructed a community of three different species of wild-type soil bacteria with syntrophic interactions using a microfluidic device to control spatial structure and chemical communication. We found that defined microscale spatial structure is both necessary and sufficient for the stable coexistence of interacting bacterial species in the synthetic community. A mathematical model describes how spatial structure can balance the competition and positive interactions within the community, even when the rates of production and consumption of nutrients by species are mismatched, by exploiting nonlinearities of these processes. These findings provide experimental and modeling evidence for a class of communities th...Continue Reading

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Related Concepts

Microorganism
Entire Oral Cavity
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Microbial
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