Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (5): 21458.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021458

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Spatial self-organization in microbial interactions

Nan Ye, Beibei Hou, Chao Wang, Ruiwu Wang, Jianxiao Song()   

  1. School of Ecological Environment, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an 710129
  • Received:2021-11-15 Accepted:2022-02-28 Online:2022-05-20 Published:2022-04-11
  • Contact: Jianxiao Song


Background & Aims: Microorganisms play a significant role in the global ecosystem, and the interaction of microorganisms with the environment (including inorganic environment and biotic environment) is one of the important topics in this research area. Microorganisms often form specific spatial structures or spatial patterns through self-organization. Spatial patterns of microorganisms were crucial for population stability, dynamics of community and maintenance of cooperative behavior, which have been well documented by theoretical and experimental studies over the past decades. Here we aim to summarize how ecological interactions facilitate self-organization and spatial pattern in microorganisms and demonstrate the effects of spatial patterns on microbial functions.

Progress: Firstly, we introduced the concept of spatial self-organization, followed by explaining spatial patterns of self-organization in different ecological interactions, especially in microbial cooperation and competition. Next, we focused on the process of microbial spatial self-organization, and finally emphasized that spatial self-organization was essential for the structural and functional stability of microbial community.

Prospects: Exploring spatial self-organization accompanying cooperative behavior in ecosystem may bring up new mechanisms for the maintenance of cooperative behavior, and provide new insights for the construction of microbial symbiotic systems.

Key words: microorganism, spatial pattern, spatial self-organization, microbial interaction, cooperation and competition