Interactions of Microbes in Communities
Groups of microorganisms sharing an environment (microbial communities) are ubiquitous in nature. Microbial communities provide essential ecosystem services to other life on Earth by e.g., participating in global biogeochemical processes or interacting with a host’s immune system. Such microbes compete for scarce resources, modify an environment for their own purposes, actively war, and occasionally cooperate. Though numerous studies have surveyed the diversity of microbial life in different environments, few have determined the ways in which members of microbial communities interact with one another. Understanding the ways and means by which microbes interact is essential if we are to understand how microbial communities form, persist, and change over time. Knowledge of these processes will allow us to rationally design microbial communities to perform useful functions and predict how our actions might shift the balance of microbes in a community, and thus affect its function. In this work, we develop and apply novel methods for understanding microbial interactions.