The natural biology of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the best known unicellular model eukaryote, remains poorly documented and understood although recent progress has started to change this situation. Studies carried out recently in the Northern Hemisphere revealed the existence of wild populations associated with oak trees in North America, Asia, and in the Mediterranean region. However, in spite of these advances, the global distribution of natural populations of S. cerevisiae, especially in regions were oaks and other members of the Fagaceae are absent, is not well understood. Here we investigate the occurrence of S. cerevisiae in Brazil, a tropical region where oaks and other Fagaceae are absent. We report a candidate natural habitat of S. cerevisiae in South America and, using whole-genome data, we uncover new lineages that appear to have as closest relatives the wild populations found in North America and Japan. A population structure analysis revealed the penetration of the wine genotype into the wild Brazilian population, a first observation of the impact of domesticated microbe lineages on the genetic structure of wild populations. Unexpectedly, the Brazilian population shows conspicuous evidence of hybridization with an American population of Saccharomyces paradoxus. Introgressions from S. paradoxus were significantly enriched in genes encoding secondary active transmembrane transporters. We hypothesize that hybridization in tropical wild lineages may have facilitated the habitat transition accompanying the colonization of the tropical ecosystem.
Keywords: Saccharomyces paradoxus; genome evolution; introgression; microbe population genomics; yeast molecular ecology.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.