Microbial interaction is an integral component of microbial ecology studies, yet the role, extent, and relevance of microbial interaction in community functioning remains unclear, particularly in the context of global biogeochemical cycles. While many studies have shed light on the physico-chemical cues affecting specific processes, (micro)biotic controls and interactions potentially steering microbial communities leading to altered functioning are less known. Yet, recent accumulating evidence suggests that the concerted actions of a community can be significantly different from the combined effects of individual microorganisms, giving rise to emergent properties. Here, we exemplify the importance of microbial interaction for ecosystem processes by analysis of a reasonably well-understood microbial guild, namely, aerobic methane-oxidizing bacteria (MOB). We reviewed the literature which provided compelling evidence for the relevance of microbial interaction in modulating methane oxidation. Support for microbial associations within methane-fed communities is sought by a re-analysis of literature data derived from stable isotope probing studies of various complex environmental settings. Putative positive interactions between active MOB and other microbes were assessed by a correlation network-based analysis with datasets covering diverse environments where closely interacting members of a consortium can potentially alter the methane oxidation activity. Although methanotrophy is used as a model system, the fundamentals of our postulations may be applicable to other microbial guilds mediating other biogeochemical processes.
Ho, A., Angel, R., Veraart, A. J., Daebeler, A., Jia, Z., Kim, S. Y., Kerckhof, F. M., Boon, N., & Bodelier, P. L. E. (2016). Biotic interactions in microbial communities as modulators of biogeochemical processes: Methanotrophy as a model system. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7, . https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2016.01285