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Nat Commun. 2017 Aug 16;8(1):265. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00334-9.

Pathogenic bacteria enhance dispersal through alteration of Drosophila social communication.

Author information

1
Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Beutenberg Campus, Hans-Knöll-Straße 8, D-07745, Jena, Germany.
2
Department of Entomology, Cornell University, 5124 Comstock Hall, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA.
3
Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Beutenberg Campus, Hans-Knöll-Straße 8, D-07745, Jena, Germany. mknaden@ice.mpg.de.
4
Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Beutenberg Campus, Hans-Knöll-Straße 8, D-07745, Jena, Germany. hansson@ice.mpg.de.

Abstract

Pathogens and parasites can manipulate their hosts to optimize their own fitness. For instance, bacterial pathogens have been shown to affect their host plants' volatile and non-volatile metabolites, which results in increased attraction of insect vectors to the plant, and, hence, to increased pathogen dispersal. Behavioral manipulation by parasites has also been shown for mice, snails and zebrafish as well as for insects. Here we show that infection by pathogenic bacteria alters the social communication system of Drosophila melanogaster. More specifically, infected flies and their frass emit dramatically increased amounts of fly odors, including the aggregation pheromones methyl laurate, methyl myristate, and methyl palmitate, attracting healthy flies, which in turn become infected and further enhance pathogen dispersal. Thus, olfactory cues for attraction and aggregation are vulnerable to pathogenic manipulation, and we show that the alteration of social pheromones can be beneficial to the microbe while detrimental to the insect host.Behavioral manipulation of host by pathogens has been observed in vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants. Here the authors show that in Drosophila, infection with pathogenic bacteria leads to increased pheromone release, which attracts healthy flies. This process benefits the pathogen since it enhances bacterial dispersal, but is detrimental to the host.

PMID:
28814724
PMCID:
PMC5559524
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-017-00334-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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