Volatile codes: Correlation of olfactory signals and reception in Drosophila-yeast chemical communication

Nicole H. Scheidler, Cheng Liu, Kelly A. Hamby, Frank G. Zalom, Zainulabeuddin Syed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Drosophila have evolved strong mutualistic associations with yeast communities that best support their growth and survival, resulting in the development of novel niches. It has been suggested that flies recognize their cognate yeasts primarily based on the rich repertoire of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) derived from the yeasts. Thus, it remained an exciting avenue to study whether fly spp. detect and discriminate yeast strains based on odor alone, and if so, how such resolution is achieved by the olfactory system in flies. We used two fly species known to exploit different niches and harboring different yeasts, D. suzukii (a pest of fresh fruit) and D. melanogaster (a saprophytic fly and a neurogenetic model organism). We initially established the behavioral preference of both fly species to six Drosophila-associated yeasts; then chemically analyzed the VOC profile of each yeast which revealed quantitative and qualitative differences; and finally isolated and identified the physiologically active constituents from yeast VOCs for each drosophilid that potentially define attraction. By employing chemical, behavioral, and electrophysiological analyses, we provide a comprehensive portrait of the olfactory neuroethological correlates underlying fly-yeast coadaptation in two drosophilids with distinct habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14059
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - Sep 22 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Kyria Boundy-Mills (Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California Davis) for help with the yeast identification and technical advice on subsequent maintenance of yeast cultures at the University of Notre Dame. This work was supported by grants from California Cherry Marketing and Research Board grant (G00001951) and UC Davis-Notre Dame Research Agreement (201224810). We thank laboratory members for help with behavioral assays. We also acknowledge the insightful comments from Drs. Jack Duman, Kenneth Filchak, Molly Duman Scheel and Hillary Smith on an earlier draft of the manuscript.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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