Claudia Buser, Eawag & ETH Zürich
Niche construction may be a general mechanism driving the evolution of mutualisms between Drosophilid flies and Saccharomyces cerevisiae - Drosophilid flies benefit from accessing yeast-infested fruits and yeasts from dispersal. However, also parasites are known to manipulate behaviour of their hosts to increase transmission.
We address this theme with the so-called “killer yeast” system. This multi-species model system consists of S. cerevisiae yeast as the host, which can harbor two double stranded RNA viruses (dsRNA L-A virus and M satellite dsRNA). When both dsRNA viruses are present together in a host cell, S. cerevisiae converts to a lethal toxin-producing “killer yeast” that is competitively superior to uninfected yeasts. With a targeted field experiment we tested whether insect vectors are more attracted to killer yeasts than to non-killer yeasts.
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