Our planet teems with microorganisms that often present a skewed abundance distribution in a local community, with relatively few dominant species coexisting alongside a high number of rare species. Recent studies have demonstrated that these rare taxa serve as limitless reservoirs of genetic diversity, and perform disproportionate types of functions despite their low abundances. However, relatively little is known about the mechanisms controlling rarity and the processes promoting the development of the rare biosphere. Here, we propose the use of multivariate cut-offs to estimate rare species and phylogenetic null models applied to predefined rare taxa to disentangle the relative influences of ecoevolutionary processes mediating the assembly of the rare biosphere. Importantly, the identification of the factors controlling rare species assemblages is critical for understanding the types of rarity, how the rare biosphere is established, and how rare microorganisms fluctuate over spatiotemporal scales, thus enabling prospective predictions of ecosystem responses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases