Understanding how environmental factors shape biological communities is a fundamental problem in microbial ecology. Patterns of microbial diversity have been characterized across a wide range of different environmental settings, but the mechanisms generating these patterns remain poorly understood. Here, we use mathematical modelling to investigate fundamental connections between chemical power supply to a system and its biological diversity and community structure. We reveal a strong mechanistic coupling between biological diversity and the diversity of chemical power supply, but also find that different properties of power supply, such as substrate fluxes and flow and Gibbs energies of reactions, affect community structure in fundamentally different ways. Moreover, we show how simple connections between power supply and growth can give rise to complex patterns of biodiversity across physicochemical gradients, such as pH gradients. Our findings demonstrate the importance of taking into account energy fluxes in order to reveal fundamental connections between community structure and environmental variability, and to obtain a better understanding of microbial population dynamics and diversity in natural environments. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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