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Microb Ecol. 2011 Jan;61(1):82-91. doi: 10.1007/s00248-010-9682-x. Epub 2010 May 8.

Species richness of yeast communities in floral nectar of southern Spanish plants.

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  • 1Estación Biológica de Doñana, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Avenida Américo Vespucio s/n, Isla de La Cartuja, 41092, Seville, Spain.


Floral nectar of insect-pollinated plants often contains dense yeast populations, yet little quantitative information exists on patterns and magnitude of species richness of nectar-dwelling yeasts in natural plant communities. This study evaluates yeast species richness at both the plant community and plant species levels in a montane forest area in southern Spain, and also explores possible correlations between the incidence of different yeast species in nectar and their reported tolerance to high sugar concentrations, and between yeast diversity and pollinator composition. Yeast species occurring in a total of 128 field-collected nectar samples from 24 plant species were identified by sequencing the D1/D2 domain of the large subunit rDNA, and rarefaction-based analyses were used to estimate yeast species richness at the plant community and plant species levels, using nectar drops as elemental sampling units. Individual nectar samples were generally characterized by very low species richness (1.2 yeast species/sample, on average), with the ascomycetous Metschnikowia reukaufii and Metschnikowia gruessii accounting altogether for 84.7% of the 216 isolates identified. Other yeasts recorded included species in the genera Aureobasidium, Rhodotorula, Cryptococcus, Sporobolomyces, and Lecythophora. The shapes and slopes of observed richness accumulation curves were quite similar for the nectar drop and plant species approaches, but the two approaches yielded different expected richness estimates. Expected richness was higher for plant species-based than for nectar drop-based analyses, showing that the coverage of nectar yeast species occurring in the region would be improved by sampling additional host plant species. A significant correlation was found between incidence of yeast species in nectar and their reported ability to grow in a medium containing 50% glucose. Neither diversity nor incidence of yeasts was correlated with pollinator composition across plant species.

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