Contrasting the relative importance of species sorting and dispersal limitation in shaping marine bacterial versus protist communities

Wenxue Wu, Hsiao Pei Lu, Akash Sastri, Yi Chun Yeh, Gwo Ching Gong, Wen Chen Chou, Chih Hao Hsieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


A central challenge in microbial ecology is to understand the underlying mechanisms driving community assembly, particularly in the continuum of species sorting and dispersal limitation. However, little is known about the relative importance of species sorting and dispersal limitation in shaping marine microbial communities; especially, how they are related to organism types/traits and water depth. Here, we used variation partitioning and null model analysis to compare mechanisms driving bacterial and protist metacommunity dynamics at the basin scale in the East China Sea, based on MiSeq paired-end sequencing of 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) and 18S rDNA, respectively, in surface, deep chlorophyll maximum and bottom layers. Our analyses indicated that protist communities were governed more strongly by species sorting relative to dispersal limitation than were bacterial communities; this pattern was consistent across the three-depth layers, albeit to different degrees. Furthermore, we detected that bacteria exhibited wider habitat niche breadths than protists, whereas, passive dispersal abilities were not appreciably different between them. Our findings support the â € size-plasticity' hypothesis: smaller organisms (bacteria) are less environment filtered than larger organisms (protists), as smaller organisms are more likely to be plastic in metabolic abilities and have greater environmental tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-494
Number of pages10
JournalISME Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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