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, 436 (7054), 1157-60

The Contribution of Species Richness and Composition to Bacterial Services


The Contribution of Species Richness and Composition to Bacterial Services

Thomas Bell et al. Nature.


Bacterial communities provide important services. They break down pollutants, municipal waste and ingested food, and they are the primary means by which organic matter is recycled to plants and other autotrophs. However, the processes that determine the rate at which these services are supplied are only starting to be identified. Biodiversity influences the way in which ecosystems function, but the form of the relationship between bacterial biodiversity and functioning remains poorly understood. Here we describe a manipulative experiment that measured how biodiversity affects the functioning of communities containing up to 72 bacterial species constructed from a collection of naturally occurring culturable bacteria. The experimental design allowed us to manipulate large numbers of bacterial species selected at random from those that were culturable. We demonstrate that there is a decelerating relationship between community respiration and increasing bacterial diversity. We also show that both synergistic interactions among bacterial species and the composition of the bacterial community are important in determining the level of ecosystem functioning.

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