Multifactorial diversity sustains microbial community stability

O. Erkus, V.C.L. de Jager, M. Spus, I.J. van Alen-Boerrigter, I.M.H. van Rijswijck, L. Hazelwood, P.W. Janssen, S.A.F.T. van Hijum, M. Kleerebezem, E.J. Smid

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118 Citations (Scopus)


Maintenance of a high degree of biodiversity in homogeneous environments is poorly understood. A complex cheese starter culture with a long history of use was characterized as a model system to study simple microbial communities. Eight distinct genetic lineages were identified, encompassing two species: Lactococcus lactis and Leuconostoc mesenteroides. The genetic lineages were found to be collections of strains with variable plasmid content and phage sensitivities. Kill-the-winner hypothesis explaining the suppression of the fittest strains by density-dependent phage predation was operational at the strain level. This prevents the eradication of entire genetic lineages from the community during propagation regimes (back-slopping), stabilizing the genetic heterogeneity in the starter culture against environmental uncertainty
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2126-2136
JournalISME Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • lactic-acid bacteria
  • complete genome sequence
  • lactococcus-lactis
  • dairy environment
  • subsp lactis
  • raw-milk
  • cremoris
  • plasmids
  • cheese
  • identification


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