The insects disperse fungi cells that produce alluring smells
Christiaens et al. Cell Reports 2014
Yeast produce fruity aromas that lure fruit flies to dinner. In return, the flies disperse the otherwise sedentary fungi, a new study suggests.
A gene called ATF1 allows Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as baker’s yeast or brewer’s yeast, to attract fruit flies, researchers demonstrate in the Oct. 23 Cell Reports.
The discovery puts the genetics and molecular biology of two commonly used laboratory organisms into ecological context, says Matthew Goddard, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Goddard’s group previously found that wild fruit flies carry S. cerevisiae. The new work helps explain the genetics underlying that interaction, he says.
What was once thought to be a useless gene might be a lynchpin of a mutually beneficial relationship between yeast and flies, similar to that of flowers that