Small is the new big

Assessing the population structure of microorganisms

Aleeza Gerstein, Jean Sébastien Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Microorganisms are a tremendously large and diverse group spanning multiple kingdoms, yet they have been considerably under-studied by ecologists and evolutionary biologists compared to their larger relatives. Although a few microbial species have become the stars of laboratory experiments, relatively few studies have examined microbial species in their natural habitats. As such, the question of whether microbial diversity parallels that of larger bodied species is contentious (Lachance 2004; Fenchel & Finlay 2004). It has been suggested that large population sizes, high dispersal potential and low extinction rates lead to genetically homogeneous populations of microbial species over large geographical scales-arguments that bring to mind discussions about speciation and population structure in the marine environment. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Herrera (2011) add to this debate by examining 91 isolates of the flower-living yeast Metschnikowia gruessii from southeastern Spain. Their AFLP results support both spatial structuring of genetic diversity across the region, as well as microsite-dependent diversifying selection within single flowers. This study adds to a growing body of literature suggesting that although microbes have much larger population sizes and many differ in their principal mode of reproduction (primarily clonal rather than sexual), patterns of genetic diversity and phylogenetic structure for some microbial species may be similar to that of larger species. This study highlights the need for vastly more research that specifically examines biogeographic structure in this under-utilized group of organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4385-4387
Number of pages3
JournalMolecular ecology
Volume20
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

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Population Density
population structure
Metschnikowia
population size
microorganism
microorganisms
flowers
genetic variation
ecologists
Ecology
marine environment
Spain
Population
amplified fragment length polymorphism
biologists
Reproduction
Ecosystem
extinction
Yeasts
yeasts

Cite this

Small is the new big : Assessing the population structure of microorganisms. / Gerstein, Aleeza; Moore, Jean Sébastien.

In: Molecular ecology, Vol. 20, No. 21, 01.11.2011, p. 4385-4387.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Gerstein, Aleeza ; Moore, Jean Sébastien. / Small is the new big : Assessing the population structure of microorganisms. In: Molecular ecology. 2011 ; Vol. 20, No. 21. pp. 4385-4387.
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