Rules of engagement: interspecies interactions that regulate microbial communities.

Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, 53706, USA.
Annual Review of Microbiology (Impact Factor: 13.02). 07/2008; 62:375-401. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.micro.030608.101423
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Microbial communities comprise an interwoven matrix of biological diversity modified by physical and chemical variation over space and time. Although these communities are the major drivers of biosphere processes, relatively little is known about their structure and function, and predictive modeling is limited by a dearth of comprehensive ecological principles that describe microbial community processes. Here we discuss working definitions of central ecological terms that have been used in various fashions in microbial ecology, provide a framework by focusing on different types of interactions within communities, review the status of the interface between evolutionary and ecological study, and highlight important similarities and differences between macro- and microbial ecology. We describe current approaches to study microbial ecology and progress toward predictive modeling.

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