Complementary resource preferences spontaneously emerge in diauxic microbial communities

Zihan Wang, Akshit Goyal, Veronika Dubinkina, Ashish B. George, Tong Wang, Yulia Fridman, Sergei Maslov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many microbes grow diauxically, utilizing the available resources one at a time rather than simultaneously. The properties of communities of microbes growing diauxically remain poorly understood, largely due to a lack of theory and models of such communities. Here, we develop and study a minimal model of diauxic microbial communities assembling in a serially diluted culture. We find that unlike co-utilizing communities, diauxic community assembly repeatably and spontaneously leads to communities with complementary resource preferences, namely communities where species prefer different resources as their top choice. Simulations and theory explain that the emergence of complementarity is driven by the disproportionate contribution of the top choice resource to the growth of a diauxic species. Additionally, we develop a geometric approach for analyzing serially diluted communities, with or without diauxie, which intuitively explains several additional emergent community properties, such as the apparent lack of species which grow fastest on a resource other than their most preferred resource. Overall, our work provides testable predictions for the assembly of natural as well as synthetic communities of diauxically shifting microbes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6661
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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