Microbial Seed Banks
Microbial Seed Banks
Microbial dormancy leads to the emergence of seed banks in environmental, engineered, and host-associated ecosystems. These seed banks act as reservoirs of diversity that allow microbes to persist under adverse conditions, including extreme limitation of resources. While microbial seed banks may be influenced by macroscale factors, such as the supply of resources, the importance of microscale encounters between organisms and resource particles is often overlooked. We hypothesized that dimensions of spatial, trophic, and resource complexity determine rates of encounter, which in turn, drive the abundance, productivity, and size of seed banks. We tested this using >10,000 stochastic individual based models (IBMs) that simulated energetic, physiological, and ecological processes across combinations of resource, spatial, and trophic complexity. These IBMs allowed realistic dynamics and the emergence of seed banks from ecological selection on random variation in species traits. Macroscale factors like the supply and concentration of resources had little effect on resource encounter rates. In contrast, encounter rates were strongly influenced by interactions between dispersal mode and spatial structure, and also by the recalcitrance of resources. In turn, encounter rates drove abundance, productivity, and seed bank dynamics. Time series revealed that energetically costly traits can lead to large seed banks and that recalcitrant resources can lead to greater stability through the formation of seed banks and the slow consumption of resources. Our findings suggest that microbial seed banks emerge from microscale dimensions of ecological complexity and their influence on resource limitation and energetic costs.
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Allied Journal of Medical Research