Biodiversity and species competition regulate the resilience of microbial biofilm community

Kai Feng, Zhaojing Zhang, Weiwei Cai, Wenzong Liu, Meiying Xu, Huaqun Yin, Aijie Wang, Zhili He, Ye Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem stability is poorly understood in microbial communities. Biofilm communities in small bioreactors called microbial electrolysis cells (MEC) contain moderate species numbers and easy tractable functional traits, thus providing an ideal platform for verifying ecological theories in microbial ecosystems. Here, we investigated the resilience of biofilm communities with a gradient of diversity, and explored the relationship between biodiversity and stability in response to a pH shock. The results showed that all bioreactors could recover to stable performance after pH disturbance, exhibiting a great resilience ability. A further analysis of microbial composition showed that the rebound of Geobacter and other exoelectrogens contributed to the resilient effectiveness, and that the presence of Methanobrevibacter might delay the functional recovery of biofilms. The microbial communities with higher diversity tended to be recovered faster, implying biofilms with high biodiversity showed better resilience in response to environmental disturbance. Network analysis revealed that the negative interactions between the two dominant genera of Geobacter and Methanobrevibacter increased when the recovery time became longer, implying the internal resource or spatial competition of key functional taxa might fundamentally impact the resilience performances of biofilm communities. This study provides new insights into our understanding of the relationship between diversity and ecosystem functioning.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number21
Pages (from-to)6170-6182
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Biofilm community
  • Environmental disturbance
  • Microbial diversity
  • Microbial electrolysis cells
  • Resilience
  • Species competition

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