Evolution of ecological dominance of yeast species in high-sugar environments

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Kathryn M WilliamsJustin C Fay


In budding yeasts, fermentation in the presence of oxygen evolved around the time of a whole genome duplication (WGD) and is thought to confer dominance in high-sugar environments because ethanol is toxic to many species. While there are many fermentative yeast species, only Saccharomyces cerevisiae consistently dominates wine fermentations. In this study, we use co-culture experiments and intrinsic growth rate assays to examine the relative fitness of non-WGD and WGD yeast species across environments to assess when S. cerevisiae's ability to dominate high-sugar environments arose. We show that S. cerevisiae dominates nearly all other non-WGD and WGD species except for its sibling species S. paradoxus in both grape juice and a high-sugar rich medium. Of the species we tested, S. cerevisiae and S. paradoxus have evolved the highest ethanol tolerance and intrinsic growth rate in grape juice. However, the ability of S. cerevisiae and S. paradoxus to dominate certain species depends on the temperature and the type of high-sugar environment. Our results indicate that dominance of high-sugar environments evolved much more recently than the WGD, most likely just prior to or during the differentiation of Saccharomyces species, and that...Continue Reading

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