Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 2, pp 633–641 | Cite as

Concept of microbial gatekeepers: Positive guys?

  • Wenfang Dai
  • Jiong Chen
  • Jinbo XiongEmail author


Microorganisms contribute diverse and fundamental roles in biogeochemical processes. In a given microbial community, individuals interact with one another to form complex regulatory networks in which gatekeepers contribute disproportional roles in sustaining stability, dynamics, and function. Owing to the ecological and functional importance of microbial gatekeeper, this review provides an overview on its history, identification, roles, application in biological sciences, and clinical diagnostics. The roles of microbial gatekeepers can be beneficial or detrimental, which depends on our purpose. As the field is rather new, some limitations are raised, and further efforts devoted to solving these concerns are proposed. Collectively, gatekeepers provide promising targets for sustaining and re-establishing a desired microbial community. However, substantial obstacles, such as factors governing gatekeepers, must be overcome to manipulate gatekeepers as positive guys.


Microbial gatekeeper Disproportional role Community stability Co-occurrence network Fragmentation 



We appreciate the invitation from Editors Alexander Steinbüchel and Ursula Kües, which offers us an opportunity to share our viewpoints in this filed.

Funding information

The authors received supports from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31872693), the Natural Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars of Zhejiang Province (LR19C030001), the Technology Innovation Team of Ningbo (2015C110018), the Xinmiao Talent Program of Zhejiang Province (2018R405080), and the K.C. Wong Magna Fund in Ningbo University.

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Marine SciencesNingbo UniversityNingboChina
  2. 2.Collaborative Innovation Center for Zhejiang Marine High-Efficiency and Healthy AquacultureNingboChina

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