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The causes and consequences of differences in microbial community structure, defined here as the relative proportions of rare and abundant organisms within a community, are poorly understood. We welcome articles that address the factors driving community structure as well as the implications of different patterns in community structure for microbial (archaeal, bacterial, eukaryotic and/or viral members) communities. Original Research, Opinion and Perspective pieces, Methods papers, Mini Reviews, and Hypothesis and Theory papers will be considered. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

1. Species Sorting: Do common environmental factors lead to similar patterns in community structure within and between different habitat types? Do different environmental factors correlate with the proportions of rare vs. abundant organisms within and between different habitat types?

2. Disturbance: How does community structure affect the response of the microbial community to disturbance? Does disturbance affect community structure in predictable ways?

3. Biological invasions: How does community structure affect invasibility? How are rare and common species replaced during invasions?

4. Community assembly and Succession: How do the order of arrival and initial abundance during dispersal processes influence the structure of more stable communities? Do communities experience predictable changes in community structure over successional time?

5. Structure and Function: What is the relationship between patterns of taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional community structure? Do organisms with similar abundance values share similar functions within and between habitat types? What are the consequences of microbial community structure for ecosystem function?

6. Temporal and spatial drivers of community structure: Are rare community members always rare? Are dominant community members also persistent? How does community structure change though space and time, and how are these changes linked to environmental gradients and/or stochastic processes?

We encourage work that spans multiple specialties, including evolutionary biology, community ecology and environmental microbiology; hence, this topic is being hosted in Frontiers in Aquatic Microbiology, Frontiers in Evolutionary and Genomic Microbiology, Frontiers in Extreme Microbiology, and Frontiers in Terrestrial Microbiology, to ensure a wide range of contributions.

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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