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Microbial communities influence the systems they inhabit by driving ecosystem processes and promoting the health and fitness of plant and animals hosts. While an extensive body of work has documented variation in microbial community membership across hosts and systems, understanding the drivers of this ...

Microbial communities influence the systems they inhabit by driving ecosystem processes and promoting the health and fitness of plant and animals hosts. While an extensive body of work has documented variation in microbial community membership across hosts and systems, understanding the drivers of this variation remains a challenge. Much of the focus of these efforts has been on the characterization of environmental variation, and has overlooked the role of transmission and dispersal dynamics in microbial communities. While quantifying or controlling the dispersal of microbial communities remains a technical and theoretical challenge, efforts to do so have been highly successful and led to ground breaking insights into the assembly and function of microbial communities, demonstrating the promising potential of a new wave of research.

With this research topic we intend to explore the role of dispersal, the movement of organisms across space, and transmission, the movement of microbes among environments, hosts and between hosts and their environment, on the composition, dynamics and function of microbial communities. The application of ecological theory and the development of suitable sampling designs, mathematical models and new computational tools will not only result in new insights but also allow the testing of specific hypotheses to fully understand microbial community variation.

This special issue will invite original research, (mini)-reviews, and opinion or perspective papers that investigate and discuss the following (but not exclusively):

• The contribution of dispersal or transmission to microbial community variation in the environment or associated with hosts
• New approaches to modeling dispersal-driven microbiome dynamics
• The role of microbial dispersal and assembly in structuring responses to environmental change.
• The effect of microbial dispersal and transmission on ecosystem function
• Methods and approaches for studying microbial dispersal and transmission
• Experimental systems and approaches in transmission research
• The conditions favoring microbial dispersal or transmission
• The commonalties/differences between inter-host and host-environment transmission

Keywords: microbial communities, dispersal-driven microbiome, microbial dispersal


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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