It’s the Economy, Stupid: Applying (Micro)economic Principles to Microbiome Science

Nadav Kashtan, Benjamin Bushong, Johan H.J. Leveau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A key challenge in microbiome science is the scale mismatch problem, which arises when the scale at which microbial communities are sampled, interrogated, and averaged is different from the scale at which individual microorganisms within those communities interact with each other and with their environment. Profiling the microbial communities in a teaspoon of soil, from a scoop of fecal matter, or along a plant leaf surface represents a scale mismatch of multiple orders of magnitude, which may limit our ability to interpret or predict species interactions and community assembly within such samples. In this Perspective, we explore how economists, who are historically and topically split along the lines of micro- and macroeconomics, deal with the scale mismatch problem, and how taking clues from (micro)economists could benefit the field of microbiomics.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere01033-21
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Kashtan et al.


  • Agent-based modeling
  • Economics
  • Host-microbe interactions
  • Individual-based modeling
  • Microbiome
  • Microbiota
  • Microeconomics
  • Phyllosphere
  • Plant-microbe interactions


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