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De Roy K.,Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology LabMET Coupure Links 653 9000 Gent Belgium | Marzorati M.,Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology LabMET Coupure Links 653 9000 Gent Belgium | Van den Abbeele P.,Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology LabMET Coupure Links 653 9000 Gent Belgium | Van de Wiele T.,Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology LabMET Coupure Links 653 9000 Gent Belgium | Boon N.,Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology LabMET Coupure Links 653 9000 Gent Belgium
Environmental Microbiology | Year: 2013

Many microbial ecologists have described the composition of microbial communities in a plenitude of environments, which has greatly improved our basic understanding of microorganisms and ecosystems. However, the factors and processes that influence the behaviour and functionality of an ecosystem largely remain black boxes when using conventional approaches. Therefore, synthetic microbial ecology has gained a lot of interest in the last few years. Because of their reduced complexity and increased controllability, synthetic communities are often preferred over complex communities to examine ecological theories. They limit the factors that influence the microbial community to a minimum, allowing their management and identifying specific community responses. However, besides their use for basic research, synthetic ecosystems also found their way towards different applications, like industrial fermentation and bioremediation. Here, we review why and how synthetic microbial communities are applied for research purposes and for which applications they have been and could be successfully used. © 2013 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

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