Apr 24, 2020

Limitation by a shared mutualist promotes coexistence of multiple competing partners

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
S. P. HammarlundWilliam R Harcombe


Although mutualisms are often studied as simple pairwise interactions, they typically involve complex networks of interacting species. How multiple mutualistic partners that provide the same service and compete for resources are maintained in mutualistic networks is an open question. We use a model bacterial community in which multiple 'partner strains' of Escherichia coli compete for a carbon source and exchange resources with a 'shared mutualist' strain of Salmonella enterica. In laboratory experiments, competing E. coli strains readily coexist in the presence of S. enterica, despite differences in their competitive abilities. We use ecological modeling to demonstrate that a shared mutualist can create temporary resource niche differentiation by limiting growth rates, even if yield is set by a resource external to a mutualism. This mechanism can extend to maintain multiple competing partner species. Our results improve our understanding of complex mutualistic communities and aid efforts to design stable microbial communities.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Phylogenetic Analysis
Antibodies, Neutralizing
Chemical Substitution
Genetic Hotspot
Mutation Abnormality
Disintegration (Morphologic Abnormality)
Somatic Hypermutation, Immunoglobulin

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