Yeast smell underpins partnership with fruit flies | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Yeast smell underpins partnership with fruit flies

The insects disperse fungi cells that produce alluring smells

3:51pm, October 9, 2014
Fluorescent yeast cells

YEASTY NOTES  Fluorescent yeast cells (green) cling to a fruit fly’s leg. Scientists have learned that yeast make fruity-smelling chemicals, which attract fruit flies. The flies eat some of the yeast, but give others a lift to new locations.

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

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content