Bacterial communities of diverse Drosophila species

Ecological context of a host-microbe model system

James Angus Chandler, Jenna Lang, Srijak Bhatnagar, Jonathan A Eisen, Artyom Kopp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

299 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Drosophila melanogaster is emerging as an important model of non-pathogenic host-microbe interactions. The genetic and experimental tractability of Drosophila has led to significant gains in our understanding of animal-microbial symbiosis. However, the full implications of these results cannot be appreciated without the knowledge of the microbial communities associated with natural Drosophila populations. In particular, it is not clear whether laboratory cultures can serve as an accurate model of host-microbe interactions that occur in the wild, or those that have occurred over evolutionary time. To fill this gap, we characterized natural bacterial communities associated with 14 species of Drosophila and related genera collected from distant geographic locations. To represent the ecological diversity of Drosophilids, examined species included fruit-, flower-, mushroom-, and cactus-feeders. In parallel, wild host populations were compared to laboratory strains, and controlled experiments were performed to assess the importance of host species and diet in shaping bacterial microbiome composition. We find that Drosophilid flies have taxonomically restricted bacterial communities, with 85% of the natural bacterial microbiome composed of only four bacterial families. The dominant bacterial taxa are widespread and found in many different host species despite the taxonomic, ecological, and geographic diversity of their hosts. Both natural surveys and laboratory experiments indicate that host diet plays a major role in shaping the Drosophila bacterial microbiome. Despite this, the internal bacterial microbiome represents only a highly reduced subset of the external bacterial communities, suggesting that the host exercises some level of control over the bacteria that inhabit its digestive tract. Finally, we show that laboratory strains provide only a limited model of natural host-microbe interactions. Bacterial taxa used in experimental studies are rare or absent in wild Drosophila populations, while the most abundant associates of natural Drosophila populations are rare in the lab.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1002272
JournalPLoS Genetics
Volume7
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Fingerprint

bacterial communities
Drosophila
Microbiota
microorganisms
Population
Cactaceae
Diet
Geographic Locations
Symbiosis
Agaricales
Drosophila melanogaster
Diptera
diet
Gastrointestinal Tract
microsymbionts
Fruit
cactus
mushroom
wild population
symbiosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics(clinical)

Cite this

Bacterial communities of diverse Drosophila species : Ecological context of a host-microbe model system. / Chandler, James Angus; Lang, Jenna; Bhatnagar, Srijak; Eisen, Jonathan A; Kopp, Artyom.

In: PLoS Genetics, Vol. 7, No. 9, e1002272, 09.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chandler, James Angus ; Lang, Jenna ; Bhatnagar, Srijak ; Eisen, Jonathan A ; Kopp, Artyom. / Bacterial communities of diverse Drosophila species : Ecological context of a host-microbe model system. In: PLoS Genetics. 2011 ; Vol. 7, No. 9.
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