Decoding Molecular Interactions in Microbial Communities

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2016 Sep;40(5):648-63. doi: 10.1093/femsre/fuw019. Epub 2016 Jul 13.


Microbial communities govern numerous fundamental processes on earth. Discovering and tracking molecular interactions among microbes is critical for understanding how single species and complex communities impact their associated host or natural environment. While recent technological developments in DNA sequencing and functional imaging have led to new and deeper levels of understanding, we are limited now by our inability to predict and interpret the intricate relationships and interspecies dependencies within these communities. In this review, we highlight the multifaceted approaches investigators have taken within their areas of research to decode interspecies molecular interactions that occur between microbes. Understanding these principles can give us greater insight into ecological interactions in natural environments and within synthetic consortia.

Keywords: corrinoids; metagenomics; microbial community; microbiome; molecular interactions; synthetic biology.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aquatic Organisms / genetics*
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Metagenomics / methods
  • Microbial Interactions / genetics*
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Bacterial