Contributions of Composition and Interactions to Bacterial Respiration Are Reliant on the Phylogenetic Similarity of the Measured Community

Damian W. Rivett, Andrew K. Lilley*, Gary J. Connett, Mary P. Carroll, Julian P. Legg, Kenneth D. Bruce

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
154 Downloads (Pure)


Bacterial diversity underpins many ecosystem functions; however, the impact of within-species variation on the relationship between diversity and function remains unclear. Processes involving strain differentiation, such as niche radiation, are often overlooked in studies that focus on phylogenetic variation. This study used bacterial isolates assembled in two comparable microcosm experiments to test how species variation affected ecosystem function. We compared the relationship between diversity and activity (CO2 production) in increasingly diverse multispecies microcosms and with multiple ecotypes of a single species. The bacteria used were isolated from a low-diversity environment and are species of potential clinical significance such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. All isolates were profiled for single carbon source utilisation. These data showed an increased breadth of resource use in the multiple ecotypes when compared to the mixed-species. The study observed significantly increasing respiration in more complex mixed-species assemblages, which was not observed when ecotypes of a single species were combined. We further demonstrate that the variation observed in the bacterial activity was due to the roles of each of the constituent isolates; between different species, the interactions between the isolates drove the variation in activity, whilst in single species, assemblage variation was due to which isolates were present. We conclude that both between- and within-species variations play different roles in community function, although through different mechanisms, and should be included in models of changing diversity and ecosystem functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
Early online date27 Apr 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Apr 2017


  • Bacterial consortia
  • Biodiversity-ecosystem function
  • Carbon utilisation
  • Intraspecific variation
  • Niche radiation
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa


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