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April 17, 2024

12:00pm, PST 1100 TLSB and Zoom

Alejandra Rodriguez Verdugo
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine

" Evolution and maintenance of microbial diversity in synthetic communities "

Microbial communities are incredibly diverse. Molecular techniques using -omics approaches have uncovered a vast number of microbial ‘species’ and strains in communities from natural environments. Yet, the eco-evolutionary processes originating and maintaining this microbial diversity remain understudied. I will discuss two experimental systems we have been using to address this knowledge gap. The first consists of a two-species synthetic community in which one species cross-feeds resources to a second species. I will present the results from a laboratory evolution experiment showing that cross-feeding interactions contribute to generating microbial diversity. The second experimental system consists of a three-species community of leaf litter degraders that decompose plant polymers through the secretion of extracellular enzymes. I will present evidence suggesting that both positive and negative interactions occur during the degradation of a biopolymer, promoting species coexistence. Combined, the two studies show that interspecies interactions play a key role in the origin and maintenance of microbial diversity.

Host: Van Savage