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Nat Commun. 2017 Oct 27;8(1):1162. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01265-1.

Generalist species drive microbial dispersion and evolution.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, the University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0032, Japan. sira.sr@chula.ac.th.
2
Research Affairs, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Pathum Wan, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand. sira.sr@chula.ac.th.
3
Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, the University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0032, Japan.
4
Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, the University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0032, Japan. iwasaki@bs.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp.
5
Department of Computational Biology and Medical Sciences, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, the University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Chiba, 277-8568, Japan. iwasaki@bs.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp.
6
Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, the University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Chiba, 277-8564, Japan. iwasaki@bs.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp.

Abstract

Microbes form fundamental bases of every Earth ecosystem. As their key survival strategies, some microbes adapt to broad ranges of environments, while others specialize to certain habitats. While ecological roles and properties of such "generalists" and "specialists" had been examined in individual ecosystems, general principles that govern their distribution patterns and evolutionary processes have not been characterized. Here, we thoroughly identified microbial generalists and specialists across 61 environments via meta-analysis of community sequencing data sets and reconstructed their evolutionary histories across diverse microbial groups. This revealed that generalist lineages possess 19-fold higher speciation rates and significant persistence advantage over specialists. Yet, we also detected three-fold more frequent generalist-to-specialist transformations than the reverse transformations. These results support a model of microbial evolution in which generalists play key roles in introducing new species and maintaining taxonomic diversity.

PMID:
29079803
PMCID:
PMC5660117
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-017-01265-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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