Nutrient-dependent switching in microbial ecosystems

Condensed Matter lunchtime seminar

Nutrient-dependent switching in microbial ecosystems

  • Event time: 1:00pm
  • Event date: 15th April 2013
  • Speaker: Timothy Bush (Formerly School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details

Nutrient cycling by microbial communities is essential in global geochemistry. Despite their importance however, little theoretical work has been done on the dynamical behaviour of nutrient cycling microbial ecosystems. I will present our mathematical model of microbial sulphur cycling. Our model contains two ecotypes of microbes, which together change sulphur between its oxidized and its reduced form. I will show that our model predicts a sensitive switching behaviour between different chemical states of the ecosystem, as a function of the microbial growth parameters. I will then present some results from experimental microbial microcosms that also show this abrupt "switching" between ecosystem states. I will then discuss some interesting implications of this result for the natural environment.

This is a weekly series of informal talks given primarily by members of the soft condensed matter and statistical mechanics groups, but is also open to members of other groups and external visitors. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and learning of various topics at a level suitable to the broad background of the group. Everyone is welcome to attend..

Find out more about Condensed Matter lunchtime seminars.