A Distinctive and Host-Restricted Gut Microbiota in Populations of a Cactophilic Drosophila Species.
ABSTRACT: Almost all animals possess gut microbial communities, but the nature of these communities varies immensely. For example, in social bees and mammals, the composition is relatively constant within species and is dominated by specialist bacteria that do not live elsewhere; in laboratory studies and field surveys of Drosophila melanogaster, however, gut communities consist of bacteria that are ingested with food and that vary widely among individuals and localities. We addressed whether an ecological specialist in its natural habitat has a microbiota dominated by gut specialists or by environmental bacteria. Drosophila nigrospiracula is a species that is endemic to the Sonoran Desert and is restricted to decaying tissues of two giant columnar cacti, Pachycereus pringlei (cardón cactus) and Carnegiea gigantea (saguaro cactus). We found that the D. nigrospiracula microbiota differs strikingly from that of the cactus tissue on which the flies feed. The most abundant bacteria in the flies are rare or completely absent in the cactus tissue and are consistently abundant in flies from different cacti and localities. Several of these fly-associated bacterial groups, such as the bacterial order Orbales and the genera Serpens and Dysgonomonas, have been identified in prior surveys of insects from the orders Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, and Diptera, including several Drosophila species. Although the functions of these bacterial groups are mostly unexplored, Orbales species studied in bees are known to break down plant polysaccharides and use the resulting sugars. Thus, these bacterial groups appear to be specialized to the insect gut environment, where they may colonize through direct host-to-host transmission in natural settings.IMPORTANCE Flies in the genus Drosophila have become laboratory models for microbiota research, yet the bacteria commonly used in these experiments are rarely found in wild-caught flies and instead represent bacteria also present in the food. This study shows that an ecologically specialized Drosophila species possesses a distinctive microbiome, composed of bacterial types absent from the flies' natural food but widespread in other wild-caught insects. This study highlights the importance of fieldwork-informed microbiota research.
Project description:The gut microorganisms in some animals are reported to include a core microbiota of consistently associated bacteria that is ecologically distinctive and may have coevolved with the host. The core microbiota is promoted by positive interactions among bacteria, favoring shared persistence; its retention over evolutionary timescales is evident as congruence between host phylogeny and bacterial community composition. This study applied multiple analyses to investigate variation in the composition of gut microbiota in drosophilid flies. First, the prevalence of five previously described gut bacteria (Acetobacter and Lactobacillus species) in individual flies of 21 strains (10 Drosophila species) were determined. Most bacteria were not present in all individuals of most strains, and bacterial species pairs co-occurred in individual flies less frequently than predicted by chance, contrary to expectations of a core microbiota. A complementary pyrosequencing analysis of 16S rRNA gene amplicons from the gut microbiota of 11 Drosophila species identified 209 bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs), with near-saturating sampling of sequences, but none of the OTUs was common to all host species. Furthermore, in both of two independent sets of Drosophila species, the gut bacterial community composition was not congruent with host phylogeny. The final analysis identified no common OTUs across three wild and four laboratory samples of D. melanogaster. Our results yielded no consistent evidence for a core microbiota in Drosophila. We conclude that the taxonomic composition of gut microbiota varies widely within and among Drosophila populations and species. This is reminiscent of the patterns of bacterial composition in guts of some other animals, including humans.
Project description:Animals live together with diverse bacteria that can impact their biology. In Drosophila melanogaster, gut-associated bacterial communities are relatively simple in composition but also have a strong impact on host development and physiology. It is generally assumed that gut bacteria in D. melanogaster are transient and their constant ingestion with food is required to maintain their presence in the gut. Here, we identify bacterial species from wild-caught D. melanogaster that stably associate with the host independently of continuous inoculation. Moreover, we show that specific Acetobacter wild isolates can proliferate in the gut. We further demonstrate that the interaction between D. melanogaster and the wild isolated Acetobacter thailandicus is mutually beneficial and that the stability of the gut association is key to this mutualism. The stable population in the gut of D. melanogaster allows continuous bacterial spreading into the environment, which is advantageous to the bacterium itself. The bacterial dissemination is in turn advantageous to the host because the next generation of flies develops in the presence of this particularly beneficial bacterium. A. thailandicus leads to a faster host development and higher fertility of emerging adults when compared to other bacteria isolated from wild-caught flies. Furthermore, A. thailandicus is sufficient and advantageous when D. melanogaster develops in axenic or freshly collected figs, respectively. This isolate of A. thailandicus colonizes several genotypes of D. melanogaster but not the closely related D. simulans, indicating that the stable association is host specific. This work establishes a new conceptual model to understand D. melanogaster-gut microbiota interactions in an ecological context; stable interactions can be mutualistic through microbial farming, a common strategy in insects. Moreover, these results develop the use of D. melanogaster as a model to study gut microbiota proliferation and colonization.
Project description:Analysis of sexual selection and sexual isolation in Drosophila mojavensis and its relatives has revealed a pervasive role of rearing substrates on adult courtship behavior when flies were reared on fermenting cactus in preadult stages. Here, we assessed expression of contact pheromones comprised of epicuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) from eclosion to 28 days of age in adults from two populations reared on fermenting tissues of two host cacti over the entire life cycle. Flies were never exposed to laboratory food and showed significant reductions in average CHC amounts consistent with CHCs of wild-caught flies. Overall, total hydrocarbon amounts increased from eclosion to 14-18 days, well past age at sexual maturity, and then declined in older flies. Most flies did not survive past 4 weeks. Baja California and mainland populations showed significantly different age-specific CHC profiles where Baja adults showed far less age-specific changes in CHC expression. Adults from populations reared on the host cactus typically used in nature expressed more CHCs than on the alternate host. MANCOVA with age as the covariate for the first six CHC principal components showed extensive differences in CHC composition due to age, population, cactus, sex, and age × population, age × sex, and age × cactus interactions. Thus, understanding variation in CHC composition as adult D. mojavensis age requires information about population and host plant differences, with potential influences on patterns of mate choice, sexual selection, and sexual isolation, and ultimately how these pheromones are expressed in natural populations. Studies of drosophilid aging in the wild are badly needed.
Project description:Studies of insect-plant interactions have provided critical insights into the ecology and evolution of adaptive processes within and among species. Cactophilic Drosophila species have received much attention because larval development occurs in the necrotic tissues of cacti, and both larvae and adults feed on these tissues. Such Drosophila-cactus interactions include effects of the host plant on the physiology and behavior of the flies, especially so their nutritional status, mating condition and reproduction. The aim of this work was to compare the transcriptional responses of two species, Drosophila antonietae and Drosophila meridionalis, and identify genes potentially related to responses to odors released by their host cactus, Cereus hildmannianus. The two fly species are sympatric in most of their populations and use this same host cactus in nature.We obtained 47 unique sequences (USs) for D. antonietae in a suppression subtractive hybridization screen, 30 of these USs had matches with genes predicted for other Drosophila species. For D. meridionalis we obtained 81 USs, 46 of which were orthologous with genes from other Drosophila species. Functional information (Gene Ontology) revealed that these differentially expressed genes are related to metabolic processes, detoxification mechanisms, signaling, response to stimuli, and reproduction. The expression of 13 genes from D. meridionalis and 12 from D. antonietae were further analyzed by quantitative real time-PCR, showing that four genes were significantly overexpressed in D. antonietae and six in D. meridionalis.Our results revealed the differential expression of genes related to responses to odor stimuli by a cactus, in two associated fly species. Although the majority of activated genes were similar between the two species, we also observed that certain metabolic pathways were specifically activated, especially those related to signaling pathways and detoxification mechanisms. The activation of these genes may reflect different metabolic pathways used by these flies in their interaction with this host cactus. Our findings provide insight into how the use of C. hildmannianus may have arisen independently in the two fly species, through genetic differentiation in metabolic pathways to effectively explore this cactus as a host.
Project description:Resident gut bacteria are constantly influencing the immune system, yet the role of the immune system in shaping microbiota composition during an organism's life span has remained unclear. Experiments in mice have been inconclusive due to differences in husbandry schemes that led to conflicting results. We used Drosophila as a genetically tractable system with a simpler gut bacterial population structure streamlined genetic backgrounds and established cross schemes to address this issue. We found that, depending on their genetic background, young flies had microbiota of different diversities that converged with age to the same Acetobacteraceae-dominated pattern in healthy flies. This pattern was accelerated in immune-compromised flies with higher bacterial load and gut cell death. Nevertheless, immune-compromised flies resembled their genetic background, indicating that familial transmission was the main force regulating gut microbiota. In contrast, flies with a constitutively active immune system had microbiota readily distinguishable from their genetic background with the introduction and establishment of previously undetectable bacterial families. This indicated the influence of immunity over familial transmission. Moreover, hyperactive immunity and increased enterocyte death resulted in the highest bacterial load observed starting from early adulthood. Cohousing experiments showed that the microenvironment also played an important role in the structure of the microbiota where flies with constitutive immunity defined the gut microbiota of their cohabitants. Our data show that, in Drosophila, constitutively active immunity shapes the structure and density of gut microbiota.
Project description:Divergent selection between environments can result in changes to the behavior of an organism. In many insects, volatile compounds are a primary means by which host plants are recognized and shifts in plant availability can result in changes to host preference. Both the plant substrate and microorganisms can influence this behavior, and host plant choice can have an impact on the performance of the organism. In Drosophila mojavensis, four geographically isolated populations each use different cacti as feeding and oviposition substrates and identify those cacti by the composition of the volatile odorants emitted. Behavioral tests revealed D. mojavensis populations vary in their degree of preference for their natural host plant. Females from the Mojave population show a marked preference for their host plant, barrel cactus, relative to other cactus choices. When flies were given a choice between cacti that were not their host plant, the preference for barrel and organ pipe cactus relative to agria and prickly pear cactus was overall lower for all populations. Volatile headspace composition is influenced by the cactus substrate, microbial community, and substrate-by-microorganism interactions. Differences in viability, developmental time, thorax length, and dry body weight exist among populations and depend on cactus substrate and population-by-cactus interactions. However, no clear association between behavioral preference and performance was observed. This study highlights a complex interplay between the insect, host plant, and microbial community and the factors mediating insect host plant preference behavior.
Project description:Gut microbiota impacts the host metabolome and affects its health span. How bacterial species in the gut influence age-dependent metabolic alteration has not been elucidated. Here we show in Drosophila melanogaster that allantoin, an end product of purine metabolism, is increased during aging in a microbiota-dependent manner. Allantoin levels are low in young flies but are commonly elevated upon lifespan-shortening dietary manipulations such as high-purine, high-sugar, or high-yeast feeding. Removing Acetobacter persici in the Drosophila microbiome attenuated age-dependent allantoin increase. Mono-association with A. persici, but not with Lactobacillus plantarum, increased allantoin in aged flies. A. persici increased allantoin via activation of innate immune signaling IMD pathway in the renal tubules. On the other hand, analysis of bacteria-conditioned diets revealed that L. plantarum can decrease allantoin by reducing purines in the diet. These data together demonstrate species-specific regulations of host purine levels by the gut microbiome.
Project description:Symbiosis is often characterized by co-evolutionary changes in the genomes of the partners involved. An understanding of these changes can provide insight into the nature of the relationship, including the mechanisms that initiate and maintain an association between organisms. In this study we examined the genome sequences of bacteria isolated from the Drosophila melanogaster gut with the objective of identifying genes that are important for function in the host. We compared microbiota isolates with con-specific or closely related bacterial species isolated from non-fly environments. First the phenotype of germ-free Drosophila (axenic flies) was compared to that of flies colonized with specific bacteria (gnotobiotic flies) as a measure of symbiotic function. Non-fly isolates were functionally distinct from bacteria isolated from flies, conferring slower development and an altered nutrient profile in the host, traits known to be microbiota-dependent. Comparative genomic methods were next employed to identify putative symbiosis factors: genes found in bacteria that restore microbiota-dependent traits to gnotobiotic flies, but absent from those that do not. Factors identified include riboflavin synthesis and stress resistance. We also used a phylogenomic approach to identify protein coding genes for which fly-isolate sequences were more similar to each other than to other sequences, reasoning that these genes may have a shared function unique to the fly environment. This method identified genes in Acetobacter species that cluster in two distinct genomic loci: one predicted to be involved in oxidative stress detoxification and another encoding an efflux pump. In summary, we leveraged genomic and in vivo functional comparisons to identify candidate traits that distinguish symbiotic bacteria. These candidates can serve as the basis for further work investigating the genetic requirements of bacteria for function and persistence in the Drosophila gut.
Project description:Most associations between animals and their gut microbiota are dynamic, involving sustained transfer of food-associated microbial cells into the gut and shedding of microorganisms into the external environment with feces, but the interacting effects of host and microbial factors on the composition of the internal and external microbial communities are poorly understood. This study on laboratory cultures of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster reared in continuous contact with their food revealed time-dependent changes of the microbial communities in the food that were strongly influenced by the presence and abundance of Drosophila. When germfree Drosophila eggs were aseptically added to nonsterile food, the microbiota in the food and flies converged to a composition dramatically different from that in fly-free food, showing that Drosophila has microbiota-independent effects on the food microbiota. The microbiota in both the flies that developed from unmanipulated eggs (bearing microorganisms) and the associated food was dominated by the bacteria most abundant on the eggs, demonstrating effective vertical transmission via surface contamination of eggs. Food coinoculated with a four-species defined bacterial community of Acetobacter and Lactobacillus species revealed the progressive elimination of Lactobacillus from the food bearing few or no Drosophila, indicating the presence of antagonistic interactions between Acetobacter and Lactobacillus. Drosophila at high densities ameliorated the Acetobacter/Lactobacillus antagonism, enabling Lactobacillus to persist. This study with Drosophila demonstrates how animals can have major, coordinated effects on the composition of microbial communities in the gut and immediate environment.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Animal-associated bacteria (microbiota) affect host behaviors and physiological traits. To identify bacterial genetic determinants of microbiota-responsive host traits, we employed a metagenome-wide association (MGWA) approach in two steps. First, we measured two microbiota-responsive host traits, development time and triglyceride (TAG) content, in Drosophila melanogaster flies monoassociated with each of 41 bacterial strains. The effects of monoassociation on host traits were not confined to particular taxonomic groups. Second, we clustered protein-coding sequences of the bacteria by sequence similarity de novo and statistically associated the magnitude of the host trait with the bacterial gene contents. The animals had been monoassociated with genome-sequenced bacteria, so the metagenome content was unambiguous. This analysis showed significant effects of pyrroloquinoline quinone biosynthesis genes on development time, confirming the results of a published transposon mutagenesis screen, thereby validating the MGWA; it also identified multiple genes predicted to affect host TAG content, including extracellular glucose oxidation pathway components. To test the validity of the statistical associations, we expressed candidate genes in a strain that lacks them. Monoassociation with bacteria that ectopically expressed a predicted oxidoreductase or gluconate dehydrogenase conferred reduced Drosophila TAG contents relative to the TAG contents in empty vector controls. Consistent with the prediction that glucose oxidation pathway gene expression increased bacterial glucose utilization, the glucose content of the host diet was reduced when flies were exposed to these strains. Our findings indicate that microbiota affect host nutritional status through modulation of nutrient acquisition. Together, these findings demonstrate the utility of MGWA for identifying bacterial determinants of host traits and provide mechanistic insight into how gut microbiota modulate the nutritional status of a model host. IMPORTANCE:To understand how certain gut bacteria promote the health of their animal hosts, we need to identify the bacterial genes that drive these beneficial relationships. This task is challenging because the bacterial communities can vary widely among different host individuals. To overcome this difficulty, we quantified how well each of 41 bacterial species protected Drosophila fruit flies from high fat content. The genomes of the chosen bacterial strains were previously sequenced, so we could statistically associate specific bacterial genes with bacterially mediated reduction in host fat content. Bacterial genes that promote glucose utilization were strongly represented in the association, and introducing these genes into the gut bacteria was sufficient to lower the animal's fat content. Our method is applicable to the study of many other host-microbe interactions as a way to uncover microbial genes important for host health.