Sporulation in soil as an overwinter survival strategy in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

FEMS Yeast Res. 2016 Feb;16(1):fov102. doi: 10.1093/femsyr/fov102. Epub 2015 Nov 13.


Due to its commercial value and status as a research model there is an extensive body of knowledge concerning Saccharomyces cerevisiae's cell biology and genetics. Investigations into S. cerevisiae's ecology are comparatively lacking, and are mostly focused on the behaviour of this species in high sugar, fruit-based environments; however, fruit is ephemeral, and presumably, S. cerevisiae has evolved a strategy to survive when this niche is not available. Among other places, S. cerevisiae has been isolated from soil which, in contrast to fruit, is a permanent habitat. We hypothesize that S. cerevisiae employs a life history strategy targeted at self-preservation rather than growth outside of the fruit niche, and resides in forest niches, such as soil, in a dormant and resistant sporulated state, returning to fruit via vectors such as insects. One crucial aspect of this hypothesis is that S. cerevisiae must be able to sporulate in the 'forest' environment. Here, we provide the first evidence for a natural environment (soil) where S. cerevisiae sporulates. While there are further aspects of this hypothesis that require experimental verification, this is the first step towards an inclusive understanding of the more cryptic aspects of S. cerevisiae's ecology.

Keywords: Saccharomyces cerevisiae; ecology; fruit forest-reservoir hypothesis; microbial ecology; sporulation; yeast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cold Temperature*
  • Microbial Viability / radiation effects*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / growth & development*
  • Soil Microbiology*
  • Spores, Fungal / growth & development*