Travel, sex, and food: What's speciation got to do with it?

Valeria Souza, Luis E. Eguiarte, Michael Travisano, James J. Elser, Christine Rooks, Janet L. Siefert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We discuss the potential interactions among travel (dispersal and gene flow), bacterial "sex" (mainly as horizontal gene transfer), and food (metabolic plasticity and responses to nutrient availability) in shaping microbial communities. With regard to our work at a unique desert oasis, the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin in Coahuila, Mexico, we propose that diversification and low phosphorus availability, in combination with mechanisms for nutrient recycling and community cohesion, result in enhanced speciation through reproductive as well as geographic isolation. We also discuss these mechanisms in the broader sense of ecology and evolution. Of special relevance to astrobiology and central to evolutionary biology, we ask why there are so many species on Earth and provide a working hypothesis and a conceptual framework within which to consider the question.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-640
Number of pages7
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012


  • Evolution
  • Horizontal gene transfer
  • Metabolism
  • Microbial ecology
  • Microbial mats


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