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PLoS One. 2016 Dec 14;11(12):e0167726. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167726. eCollection 2016.

Bacterial Communities Differ among Drosophila melanogaster Populations and Affect Host Resistance against Parasitoids.

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Evolutionary Genetics, Development & Behaviour, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Genomics Research in Ecology and Evolution in Nature, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


In Drosophila, diet is considered a prominent factor shaping the associated bacterial community. However, the host population background (e.g. genotype, geographical origin and founder effects) is a factor that may also exert a significant influence and is often overlooked. To test for population background effects, we characterized the bacterial communities in larvae of six genetically differentiated and geographically distant D. melanogaster lines collected from natural populations across Europe. The diet for these six lines had been identical for ca. 50 generations, thus any differences in the composition of the microbiome originates from the host populations. We also investigated whether induced shifts in the microbiome-in this case by controlled antibiotic administration-alters the hosts' resistance to parasitism. Our data revealed a clear signature of population background on the diversity and composition of D. melanogaster microbiome that differed across lines, even after hosts had been maintained at the same diet and laboratory conditions for over 4 years. In particular, the number of bacterial OTUs per line ranged from 8 to 39 OTUs. Each line harboured 2 to 28 unique OTUs, and OTUs that were highly abundant in some lines were entirely missing in others. Moreover, we found that the response to antibiotic treatment differed among the lines and significantly altered the host resistance to the parasitoid Asobara tabida in one of the six lines. Wolbachia, a widespread intracellular endosymbiont associated with parasitoid resistance, was lacking in this line, suggesting that other components of the Drosophila microbiome caused a change in host resistance. Collectively, our results revealed that lines that originate from different population backgrounds show significant differences in the established Drosophila microbiome, outpacing the long-term effect of diet. Perturbations on these naturally assembled microbiomes to some degree influenced the hosts' resistance against natural parasites.

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