Community disturbances

Altered (dysbiotic) states of human-associated microbial communities have been linked to a large number of diseases, such as IBD, periodontal disease, obesity, and various forms of cancer. Generally, it is yet unknown what the specific mechanisms are that cause dysbiosis, but microbial biodiversity seems to play an important role in maintaining a healthy microbiota. One goal of the lab is to understand the factors that contribute to functional stability in microbial communities, i.e. how a consortium of microorganisms can coexist and maintain a stable relationship with each other and their host. To investigate these factors, we work with assessing the effects of disturbances on microbial communities. Specifically, we use model systems exposedto stressors, including antibiotics, invading species and nutrient limitation.

Open questions of interest

  • Which genes are important for community resilience to environmental changes?
  • How do stressful conditions, such as pollution, influence interactions in microbial communities?
  • How can we link perturbation of a microbial community to genetic changes?
  • How large disturbances are needed to cause certain degrees of effects on microbial species loss, loss of key ecosystem functionality, and/or loss of ecosystem services?
  • How do dormant species and the “rare biosphere” contribute to the stability of microbial communities?
  • What is the role of mobile DNA in resilience of microbial ecosystems to perturbations?

Key publications

    • Pärnänen K, Karkman A, Hultman J, Lyra C, Bengtsson-Palme J, Larsson DGJ, Rautava S, Isolauri E, Salminen S, Kumar H, Satokari R, Virta M: Maternal gut and breast milk microbiota affect infant gut antibiotic resistome and mobile genetic elements. Nature Communications, 9, 3891 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06393-w [Paper link]
    • Bengtsson-Palme J, Alm Rosenblad M, Molin M, Blomberg A: Metagenomics reveals that detoxification systems are underrepresented in marine bacterial communities. BMC Genomics, 15, 749 (2014). doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-749 [Paper link]
    • Bahram M, Hildebrand F, Forslund SK, Anderson JL, Soudzilovskaia NA, Bodegom PM, Bengtsson-Palme J, Anslan S, Coelho LP, Harend H, Huerta-Cepas J, Medema MH, Maltz MR, Mundra S, Olsson PA, Pent M, Põlme S, Sunagawa S, Ryberg M, Tedersoo L, Bork P: Structure and function of the global topsoil microbiome. Nature, 560, 7717, 233–237 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0386-6 [Paper link]
    • Bengtsson-Palme J, Milakovic M, Švecová H, Ganjto M, Jonsson V, Grabic R, Udiković Kolić N: Pharmaceutical wastewater treatment plant enriches resistance genes and alter the structure of microbial communities. Water Research, 162, 437-445 (2019). doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2019.06.073 [Paper link]

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