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Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology
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The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Mapping the ecological networks of microbial communities


Xiao, Y. ; Angulo, M. T. ; Friedman, J. ; Waldor, M. K. ; Weiss, S. T. ; Liu, Y. - Y. Mapping the ecological networks of microbial communities. 2017, 8 2042.

Date Published:



Mapping the ecological networks of microbial communities is a necessary step toward understanding their assembly rules and predicting their temporal behavior. However, existing methods require assuming a particular population dynamics model, which is not known a priori. Moreover, those methods require fitting longitudinal abundance data, which are often not informative enough for reliable inference. To overcome these limitations, here we develop a new method based on steady-state abundance data. Our method can infer the network topology and inter-taxa interaction types without assuming any particular population dynamics model. Additionally, when the population dynamics is assumed to follow the classic Generalized Lotka–Volterra model, our method can infer the inter-taxa interaction strengths and intrinsic growth rates. We systematically validate our method using simulated data, and then apply it to four experimental data sets. Our method represents a key step towards reliable modeling of complex, real-world microbial communities, such as the human gut microbiota.