|Publisher||Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory|
<jats:title>ABSTRACT</jats:title>Humans depend on microbial communities for numerous ecosystem services such as global nutrient cycles, plant growth and their digestive health. Yet predicting dynamics and functioning of these complex systems is hard, making interventions to enhance functioning harder still. One simplifying approach is to assume that functioning can be predicted from the set of enzymes present in a community. Alternatively, ecological and evolutionary dynamics of species, which depend on how enzymes are packaged among species, might be vital for predicting community functioning. I investigate these alternatives by extending classical chemostat models of bacterial growth to multiple species that evolve in their use of chemical resources. Ecological interactions emerge from patterns of resource use, which change as species evolve in their allocation of metabolic enzymes. Measures of community functioning derive in turn from metabolite concentrations and bacterial density. Although the model shows considerable functional redundancy, species packaging does matter by introducing constraints on whether enzyme levels can reach optimum levels for the whole system. Evolution can either promote or reduce functioning compared to purely ecological models, depending on the shape of trade-offs in resource use. The model provides baseline theory for interpreting emerging data on evolution and functioning in real bacterial communities.
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