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Bdellovibrio and Like Organisms are Predictors of Microbiome Diversity in distinct Host Groups

By Julia Johnke, Sebastian Fraune, Thomas Bosch, Ute Hentschel, Hinrich Schulenburg

Posted 05 May 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/627455 (published DOI: 10.1007/s00248-019-01395-7)

Biodiversity is generally believed to be a main determinant of ecosystem functioning. This principle also applies to the microbiome and could consequently contribute to host health. According to ecological theory, communities are shaped by top predators whose direct and indirect interactions with community members cause stability and diversity. Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) are a neglected group of predatory bacteria that feed on Gram-negative bacteria and can thereby influence microbiome composition. We asked whether BALOs can predict biodiversity levels in microbiomes from distinct host groups and environments. We demonstrate that genetic signatures of BALOs are commonly found within the 16S rRNA reads from diverse host taxa. In many cases, their presence, abundance, and especially richness are positively correlated with overall microbiome diversity. Our findings suggest that BALOs can act as drivers of microbial alpha-diversity and should therefore be considered as candidates for the restoration of microbiomes and the prevention of dysbiosis.

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