Saccharomyces cerevisiae mitochondria are required for optimal attractiveness to Drosophila melanogaster

PLoS One. 2014 Dec 2;9(12):e113899. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113899. eCollection 2014.


While screening a large collection of wild and laboratory yeast strains for their ability to attract Drosophila melanogaster adults, we noticed a large difference in fly preference for two nearly isogenic strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, BY4741 and BY4742. Using standard genetic analyses, we tracked the preference difference to the lack of mitochondria in the BY4742 strain used in the initial experiment. We used gas chromatography coupled with mass spectroscopy to examine the volatile compounds produced by BY4741 and the mitochondria-deficient BY4742, and found that they differed significantly. We observed that several ethyl esters are present at much higher levels in strains with mitochondria, even in fermentative conditions. We found that nitrogen levels in the substrate affect the production of these compounds, and that they are produced at the highest level by strains with mitochondria when fermenting natural fruit substrates. Collectively these observations demonstrate that core metabolic processes mediate the interaction between yeasts and insect vectors, and highlight the importance mitochondrial functions in yeast ecology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Chemotactic Factors / pharmacology
  • Choice Behavior / drug effects
  • Drosophila melanogaster / drug effects
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Inheritance Patterns / genetics
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Nitrogen / pharmacology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Vitis / drug effects
  • Volatilization


  • Chemotactic Factors
  • Nitrogen