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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Microbial functional trait of rRNA operon copy numbers increases with organic levels in anaerobic digesters.

  • Author(s): Wu, Linwei
  • Yang, Yunfeng
  • Chen, Si
  • Jason Shi, Zhou
  • Zhao, Mengxin
  • Zhu, Zhenwei
  • Yang, Sihang
  • Qu, Yuanyuan
  • Ma, Qiao
  • He, Zhili
  • Zhou, Jizhong
  • He, Qiang
  • et al.

The ecological concept of the r-K life history strategy is widely applied in macro-ecology to characterize functional traits of taxa. However, its adoption in microbial communities is limited, owing to the lack of a measureable, convenient functional trait for classification. In this study, we performed an experiment of stepwise organic amendments in triplicate anaerobic digesters. We found that high resource availability significantly favored microbial r-strategists such as Bacillus spp. Incremental resource availability heightened average rRNA operon copy number of microbial community, resulting in a strong, positive correlation (r>0.74, P<0.008). This study quantifies how resource availability manipulations influence microbial community composition and supports the idea that rRNA operon copy number is an ecologically meaningful trait which reflects resource availability.

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