Ecological Implications of Microbial Dormancy

Lennon, J.T.

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting (2011-04-15 to 2011-04-15 )

Dormancy is a bet-hedging strategy used by a wide range of taxa, including microorganisms. It refers to an organism’s ability to enter a reversible state of low metabolic activity when faced with unfavourable environmental conditions. Dormant microorganisms generate a seed bank, which comprises individuals that are capable of being resuscitated following environmental change. We highlight mechanisms that have evolved in microorganisms to allow them to successfully enter and exit a dormant state, and discuss the implications of microbial seed banks for evolutionary dynamics, population persistence, maintenance of biodiversity, and the stability of ecosystem processes.

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