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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e25883. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025883. Epub 2011 Oct 6.

The importance of dispersal for bacterial community composition and functioning.

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Department of Ecology and Genetics/Limnology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


We conducted a metacommunity experiment to investigate the role of dispersal for bacterial community composition (BCC) and function of freshwater bacteria. Bacteria were dispersed from a common source pool into three different lake communities in their natural lake water. The experiment was conducted in dialysis bags to enable a decoupling between a change in the local environment and dispersal. BCC was determined by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (tRFLP) of the 16S rRNA gene. We show that the greatest changes in BCC occurred between 10% and 43% of dispersal of standing stock per day. Functioning, measured as growth rate, was also affected by dispersal in all three communities but the qualitative pattern differed between communities, sometimes showing a hump-shaped relationship to dispersal and sometimes decreasing with increasing dispersal. In all waters, functioning was related to BCC. Our results show that dispersal does affect BCC and functioning but that high dispersal rates are needed. Further, the effect of dispersal on BCC and function seem to depend on the quality of the habitat to which bacteria disperse into.

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