Chapter

Microbial biodiversity and ecosystem functioning under controlled conditions and in the wild

Thomas Bell, Mark O. Gessner, Robert I. Griffiths, Jennie R. McLaren, Peter J. Morin, Marcel van der Heijden and Wim H. van der Putten

in Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning, and Human Wellbeing

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780199547951
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720345 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199547951.003.0009
 Microbial biodiversity and ecosystem functioning under controlled conditions and in the wild

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Primary production and decomposition by microbial communities underpins the functioning of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Microbial communities also provide economically important services such as degradation of pollutants; direct effects on primary productivity; and indirect effects of predation, phytophagy, or resource competition. This chapter's review recent experiments with constructed communities of microbes under controlled conditions. Our review reveals that, although there are many exceptions, most studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between microbial diversity and ecosystem functioning. However, studies of natural communities have reported a variety of relationships between microbial diversity and functioning, and no consistent evidence for a significant relationship has emerged. Regarding these inconsistencies, This chapter discusses the possibility that microcosm and field studies are investigating different parts of the same underlying relationship, and also the possibility that bias in microbe culturability or error in field measurements of biodiversity make comparisons difficult.

Keywords: microbe; diversity; ecosystem function; microcosm

Chapter.  7530 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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