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Condensed Matter / Biophysics Seminar – Jonathan Friedman, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Synthetic Ecology: Building Microbial Communities From The Bottom Up
Ecosystems are arguably the most complex but least understood level of biological organization. Microbial communities, composed of numerous interacting species, are of particular importance as they play key roles in numerous application areas, including biotechnology, agriculture, and medicine. In this talk, I will discuss our recent theoretical and experimental efforts towards developing a predictive understanding of the structure and function of microbial communities. We found that community structure can be well predicted from pairwise interactions in laboratory microbial communities both on short, ecological time scales and on longer, evolutionary time scales when pairwise interactions vary over time. These results indicate that higher-order interactions among species often do not play a significant role in shaping microbial communities. These findings provide the first step towards “synthetic ecology”—the rational design of and management of microbial communities.