Monday, June 15, 2020

424 - Stranger Cells Switch Stable States

Lactobacillus bacteria

Pelzer et al. 2012, PLOS One e49965

This episode: Certain bacteria can greatly affect the makeup of a microbial community, even if they quickly disappear!

Thanks to Dr. Daniel Amor for his contribution!

Download Episode (6.3 MB, 9.2 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Gadgets Gully virus

News item

Microbial communities show more than just competition between species. Stable assemblies of many species can exist for long periods in places like the human gut, despite constant minor shifts in conditions. More major shifts, or invaders like pathogens coming in and taking over, can cause big disruptions in the community and lead to long-term gut dysbiosis, which can be, interestingly, also a stable community. 

This study shows that invaders into a community, even if they don't persist for very long, can cause a shift from one stable state to another, by favoring the dominance of a species or group that was not dominant before, for example by changing the pH of the environment. So competition is always present. This could be helpful to know for efforts to intentionally shift community structures.

Journal Paper:
Amor DR, Ratzke C, Gore J. 2020. Transient invaders can induce shifts between alternative stable states of microbial communities. Sci Adv 6:eaay8676.

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