How do microbes grow in nature?  The role of population dynamics in microbial ecology and evolution

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Justus Wilhelm Fink, Michael Manhart 


The growth of microbial populations in nature is dynamic, as the cellular physiology and environment of these populations change. Understanding the growth dynamics of these populations has wide-ranging consequences for their ecology and evolution; it may also be critical for clinical and environmental applications in which we need to promote or inhibit microbial growth. Here we review the latest efforts to measure population dynamics of microbes in natural environments. We then address the role of population dynamics, especially tradeoffs in growth traits, in mediating ecological coexistence of multiple species. Finally, we discuss how population dynamics and evolutionary processes form a feedback loop that ultimately shapes the evolved patterns of growth we observe. We identify the major gaps in our current knowledge for each of these topics and what future work will be required to close them. We conclude with a brief outlook on the future of microbial population dynamics research.



Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology Life Sciences, Evolution, Life Sciences, Microbiology, Systems Biology


microbes, population growth, natural environments, microbial ecology, microbial evolution, Tradeoffs


Published: 2023-02-25 13:15

Last Updated: 2023-02-25 18:15


CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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