Many microbial ecologists have described the composition of microbial communities in a plenitude of environments, which has greatly improved our basic understanding of microorganisms and ecosystems. However, the factors and processes that influence the behaviour and functionality of an ecosystem largely remain black boxes when using conventional approaches. Therefore, synthetic microbial ecology has gained a lot of interest in the last few years.
Because of their reduced complexity and increased controllability, synthetic communities are often preferred over complex communities to examine ecological theories. They limit the factors that influence the microbial community to a minimum, allowing their management and identifying specific community responses. However, besides their use for basic research, synthetic ecosystems also found their way towards different applications, like industrial fermentation and bioremediation, and for general microbial resource management.