Priming in fungi – towards understanding priming at the level of the community
Priming is an increasingly recognised feature in microbial ecophysiology, having been demonstrated in a number of microbial systems and in response to a range of stressors; however it has so far been exclusively examined from the perspective of an individual species or population. In reality microbes occur as part of complex assemblages, within which interactions between individuals and species will have enormous fitness consequences. These community-level interactions could therefore alter priming responses of the community, and priming could alter community dynamics. The goal of this project is therefore to examine the phenomenon of priming, in our case thermopriming, at the level of the microbial assemblage.
We will use an integrated experimental and modelling approach, combining the expertise of the two PIs, which employs two different systems: terrestrial (saprobic soil fungi) and aquatic (nectar yeasts) to achieve greater external validity. Our project moves along an axis of increasing ecological complexity, from pairwise interactions, to simple model communities (3-species) to more complex communities in natural substrate, affording the opportunity to examine consequences of thermopriming for process rates.
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