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Yeast Communities of Diverse Drosophila Species: Comparison of Two Symbiont Groups in the Same Hosts


The combination of ecological diversity with genetic and experimental tractability makes Drosophila a powerful model for the study of animal-associated microbial communities. Despite the known importance of yeasts in Drosophila physiology, behavior, and fitness, most recent work has focused on Drosophila-bacterial interactions. In order to get a more complete understanding of the Drosophila microbiome, we characterized the yeast communities associated with different Drosophila species collected around the world. We focused on the phylum Ascomycota because it constitutes the vast majority of the Drosophila-associated yeasts. Our sampling strategy allowed us to compare the distribution and structure of the yeast and bacterial communities in the same host populations. We show that yeast communities are dominated by a small number of abundant taxa, that the same yeast lineages are associated with different host species and populations, and that host diet has a greater effect than host species on yeast community composition. These patterns closely parallel those observed in Drosophila bacterial communities. However, we do not detect a significant correlation between the yeast and bacterial communities of the same host populations. Comparative analysis of different symbiont groups provides a more comprehensive picture of host-microbe interactions. Future work on the role of symbiont communities in animal physiology, ecological adaptation, and evolution would benefit from a similarly holistic approach.

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