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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 May 24;113(21):5970-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1521291113. Epub 2016 May 2.

Scaling laws predict global microbial diversity.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405 ken@weecology.org lennonj@indiana.edu.

Abstract

Scaling laws underpin unifying theories of biodiversity and are among the most predictively powerful relationships in biology. However, scaling laws developed for plants and animals often go untested or fail to hold for microorganisms. As a result, it is unclear whether scaling laws of biodiversity will span evolutionarily distant domains of life that encompass all modes of metabolism and scales of abundance. Using a global-scale compilation of ∼35,000 sites and ∼5.6⋅10(6) species, including the largest ever inventory of high-throughput molecular data and one of the largest compilations of plant and animal community data, we show similar rates of scaling in commonness and rarity across microorganisms and macroscopic plants and animals. We document a universal dominance scaling law that holds across 30 orders of magnitude, an unprecedented expanse that predicts the abundance of dominant ocean bacteria. In combining this scaling law with the lognormal model of biodiversity, we predict that Earth is home to upward of 1 trillion (10(12)) microbial species. Microbial biodiversity seems greater than ever anticipated yet predictable from the smallest to the largest microbiome.

KEYWORDS:

biodiversity; macroecology; microbiology; microbiome; rare biosphere

PMID:
27140646
PMCID:
PMC4889364
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1521291113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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