Web of ecological interactions in an experimental gut microbiota
Pål Trosvik et al. in Environmental Microbiology
The dynamics of all ecosystems are dictated by intrinsic, density-dependent mechanisms and by density-independent environmental forcing. In spite of the importance of the gastrointestinal microbiota in health and disease, the ecology of this system remains largely unknown. Here, we take an ecological approach to gut microbial community analysis, with statistical modelling of time series data from chemostats. This approach removes effects of host forcing, allowing us to describe a network of intrinsic interactions determining the dynamic structure of an experimental gut microbiota. Surprisingly, the main colonization pattern in this simplified model system resembled that of the human infant gut, suggesting a potentially important role of density-dependent interactions in the early gut microbiota. Knowledge of ecological structures in microbial systems may provide us with a means of controlling such systems by modifying the strength and nature of interactions among microbes and between the microbes and their environment.
October 2010, 12: 2677-2687 DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02236.x