Microbial communities feature an immense diversity of species and this diversity is linked to outcomes ranging from ecosystem stability to medical prognoses. Yet the mechanisms underlying microbial diversity are under debate. While simple resource-competition models don’t allow for coexistence of a large number of species, it was recently shown that metabolic trade-offs can allow unlimited diversity. Does this diversity persist with more realistic, intermittent nutrient supply? Here, we demonstrate theoretically that in serial dilution culture, metabolic trade-offs allow for high diversity. When a small amount of nutrient is supplied to each batch, the serial dilution dynamics mimic a chemostat-like steady state. If more nutrient is supplied, community diversity shifts due to an ’early-bird’ effect. The interplay of this effect with different environmental factors and diversity-supporting mechanisms leads to a variety of relationships between nutrient supply and diversity, suggesting that real ecosystems may not obey a universal nutrient-diversity relationship.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)