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ISME J. 2011 Jul;5(7):1108-14. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2011.9. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Intraspecific genotypic richness and relatedness predict the invasibility of microbial communities.

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Georg-August-University Göttingen, JF Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, Göttingen, Germany.


Biological invasions can lead to extinction events in resident communities and compromise ecosystem functioning. We tested the effect of two widespread biodiversity measurements, genotypic richness and genotypic dissimilarity on community invasibility. We manipulated the genetic structure of bacterial communities (Pseudomonas fluorescens) and submitted them to invasion by Serratia liquefaciens. We show that the two diversity measures impact on invasibility via distinct and additive mechanisms. Genotypic dissimilarity of the resident communities linearly increased productivity and in parallel decreased invasion success, indicating that high dissimilarity prevents invasion through niche pre-emption. By contrast, genotypic richness exerted a hump-shaped effect on invasion and was linked to the production of toxins antagonistic to the invader. This effect peaked at intermediate richness, suggesting that high richness levels may increase invasibility. Invasibility could be well predicted by the combination of these two mechanisms, documenting that both genotypic richness and dissimilarity need to be considered, if we are to understand the biotic properties determining the susceptibility of ecosystems to biological invasions.

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