Microcosms and Mesocosms: A Way to Test the Resilience of Microbial Communities in Cuatro Ciénegas

  • Nguyen E. López-Lozano
  • Silvia Pajares
  • Ana E. Escalante
  • Luis E. Eguiarte
  • Valeria Souza
  • Gabriela Olmedo-Álvarez
Part of the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin: An Endangered Hyperdiverse Oasis book series (CUCIBA)


Given the fragility of the Cuatro Cienegas Basin and the danger of its loss, we started to study the variables affecting the resilience of the microbial community using different experimental approaches. How do microbial communities react to different kinds of perturbations and global change scenarios? We analyzed a series of experimental models that represent different ecosystem compartments: bulk soil, soil crusts, water, and sediment. The experiments were performed in mesocosm or microcosm model systems, which we call in general “cosm” experiments. Different questions were addressed. How does water availability affect the recovery of microbial communities in disturbed soil patches? How do changes in temperature affect microbial crusts? How do bacterioplankton and bacterial mat communities respond to changes in temperature and UV radiation? What would happen to an oligotrophic environment if there was a high nutrient input? Our results suggested perturbations that influenced community structure and community cohesion were stronger in less fluctuating environments. Although it had been suggested that there was a functional (ecological) equivalence between microbial communities, our results on N2-fixing microorganisms of two arid ecosystems showed functional differences, even though similar species occur in both systems. Currently, new experiments are being carried out in “cosms” with replicates of the sediment and water interphase. Sadly, in one of the sites we have studied better, the Churince ecosystem, its conditions were dire the last time that sediment and water were sampled there. This ecosystem has now nearly disappeared. Nevertheless, the sediment in these fish tanks seems to be recovering its original structure. While seeming like a white rhino in a zoo, it might be the only ecosystem of this kind left to learn about what we lost.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nguyen E. López-Lozano
    • 1
  • Silvia Pajares
    • 2
  • Ana E. Escalante
    • 3
  • Luis E. Eguiarte
    • 4
  • Valeria Souza
    • 4
  • Gabriela Olmedo-Álvarez
    • 5
  1. 1.CONACyT-División de Ciencias AmbientalesInstituto Potosino de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (IPICYT)San Luis PotosíMexico
  2. 2.Unidad de Ecología y Biodiversidad Acuática, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y LimnologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  3. 3.Laboratorio Nacional de Ciencias de la Sostenibilidad (LANCIS), Instituto de EcologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  4. 4.Instituto de EcologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  5. 5.Departamento de Ingeniería GenéticaCinvestav Unidad IrapuatoIrapuatoMexico

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