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Title: Microbial interactions during carrion decomposition

item Crippen, Tawni - Tc
item BENBOW, M - Michigan State University
item PECHAL, JENNIFER - Michigan State University

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/28/2015
Publication Date: 8/22/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Crippen, T.L., Benbow, M.E., Pechal, J.L. 2015. In: Benbow, M.E., Tomberlin, J.K., Tarone, A.M., editors. Microbial interactions during carrion decomposition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 31-64.

Interpretive Summary: The chapter will address the microbial mechanisms occurring during the decomposition of animal remains and their interactions with the insects that drive the decomposition. It covers recent advances in molecular techniques allowing a more in-depth analysis of the bacteria and fungi participating in decay and provides a synthesis and future directions for studies of carrion decomposition to improve the understanding of ecosystem function. The book will fill a knowledge gap of a sub-discipline of ecology measuring and understanding the process and effects of carrion decomposition in nature, with special application in such fields as agriculture, vector pathobiology, ecology, forensic entomology, and animal and environmental health.

Technical Abstract: This addresses the microbial ecology of carrion decomposition in the age of metagenomics. It describes what is known about the microbial communities on carrion, including a brief synopsis about the communities on other organic matter sources. It provides a description of studies using state-of-the-art techniques to identify carrion microbial communities and introduce their phylogenetic relationships. It evaluates how these communities change or assemble during the decomposition process, including an assessment of new findings on the interactions of microbes and necrophagous arthropods. The interactions will be introduced using Tinbergen's four questions. The chapter will also provide a brief discussion of how carrion sources influence the soil chemistry and flora. The information will provide a foundation for a subsequent discussion on how carrion microbial communities may be strong bottom up forces driving the entire decomposition process and of how this microbial process of nutrient and energy transformation influences ecosystem level processes. This chapter concludes with a discussion of future research directions applying carrion microbial ecology and how the carrion necrobiome can be used as a model system to explore novel and complex questions related to the core importance of microbes in community and ecosystem dynamics.