In experimental science, organisms are usually studied in isolation, but in the wild, they compete and cooperate in complex communities. We report a system for cross-kingdom communication by which bacteria heritably transform yeast metabolism. An ancient biological circuit blocks yeast from using other carbon sources in the presence of glucose. [GAR(+)], a protein-based epigenetic element, allows yeast to circumvent this "glucose repression" and use multiple carbon sources in the presence of glucose. Some bacteria secrete a chemical factor that induces [GAR(+)]. [GAR(+)] is advantageous to bacteria because yeast cells make less ethanol and is advantageous to yeast because their growth and long-term viability is improved in complex carbon sources. This cross-kingdom communication is broadly conserved, providing a compelling argument for its adaptive value. By heritably transforming growth and survival strategies in response to the selective pressures of life in a biological community, [GAR(+)] presents a unique example of Lamarckian inheritance.
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