The Microbial Conveyor Belt: Connecting the Globe through Dispersion and Dormancy

Mireia Mestre, Juan Höfer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Despite the recent increase in knowledge concerning microorganisms, the processes determining their global distribution and functioning have not been disentangled. Microbial dormant stages are adapted to endure specific adverse conditions related to their dispersion path, suggesting that dispersion is not entirely a stochastic process. Long-term dormancy enhances microbial dispersion, promoting the ubiquity of microorganisms. The evidence leads us to propose that there is a global, recurrent, and spatially cyclical dispersion of microorganisms that we have called the Microbial Conveyor Belt. These dispersion cycles directly influence the distribution of microorganisms, the global cycling of inorganic and organic matter, and thus the Earth system's functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-492
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • biogeography
  • dispersion
  • dormancy
  • global biogeochemical cycles
  • microorganism
  • seed bank


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