About this Research Topic
Advances in next generation sequencing technologies, omics, and bioinformatics are revealing a tremendous and unsuspected diversity of microbes, both at a compositional and functional level. Moreover, the expansion of ecological concepts into microbial ecology has greatly advanced our comprehension of the role microbes play in the functioning of ecosystems across a wide range of biomes. Super-imposed on this new information about microbes, their functions and how they are organized, environmental gradients are changing rapidly, largely driven by direct and indirect human activities.
In the context of global change, understanding the mechanisms that shape microbial communities is pivotal to predict microbial responses to novel selective forces and their implications at the local as well as global scale. One of the main features of microbial communities is their ability to react to changes in the environment. Thus, many studies have reported changes in the performance and composition of communities along environmental gradients. However, the mechanisms underlying these responses remain unclear. It is assumed that the response of microbes to changes in the environment is mediated by a complex combination of shifts in the physiological properties, single-cell activities, or composition of communities: it may occur by means of physiological adjustments of the taxa present in a community or selecting towards more tolerant/better adapted phylotypes. Knowing whether certain factors trigger one, many, or all mechanisms would greatly increase confidence in predictions of future microbial composition and processes.
This Research Topic focuses on studies that investigate the mechanisms by which microbes respond to diverse environmental gradients. Special attention will be given to studies that apply the latest molecular techniques to describe microbial metabolism and composition, integrating ecological, biogeochemical and modeling concepts to provide an integrative perspective of the response of microbes to environmental changes. The present topic is hosted in Frontiers in Aquatic Microbiology and Frontiers in Terrestrial Microbiology to ensure a wide range of contributions.