Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Ecol. 2019 Feb 3. doi: 10.1111/mec.15041. [Epub ahead of print]

Correlation and causation between the microbiome, Wolbachia and host functional traits in natural populations of drosophilid flies.

Author information

Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14850, USA.
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14850, USA.


Resident microorganisms are known to influence the fitness and traits of animals under controlled laboratory conditions, but, the relevance of these findings to wild animals is uncertain. This study investigated the host functional correlates of microbiota composition in a wild community of three sympatric species of mycophagous drosophilid flies, Drosophila falleni, D. neotestacea and D. putrida. Specifically, we quantified bacterial communities and host transcriptomes by parallel 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and RNA-Seq of individual flies. Among-fly variation in microbiota composition did not partition strongly by sex or species, and included multiple modules, i.e. sets of bacterial taxa whose abundance varied in concert across different flies. The abundance of bacteria in several modules varied significantly with multiple host transcripts, especially in females, but the identity of the correlated host transcriptional functions differed with host species, including epithelial barrier function in D. falleni, muscle function in D. putrida, and insect growth and development in D. neotestacea. In D. neotestacea, which harbors the endosymbionts Wolbachia and Spiroplasma, Wolbachia promotes the abundance of Spiroplasma, and is positively correlated with abundance of Lactobacillales and Bacteroidales. Furthermore, most correlations between host gene expression and relative abundance of bacterial modules were co-correlated with abundance of Wolbachia (but not Spiroplasma), indicative of an inter-dependence between host functional traits, microbiota composition and Wolbachia abundance in this species. These data suggest that, in these natural populations of drosophilid flies, different host species interact with microbial communities in functionally different ways that can vary with the abundance of endosymbionts. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


Drosophila ; microbiome; mycophagous drosophilids; transcriptome


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center