Inhospitable sweetness: nectar filtering of pollinator-borne inocula leads to impoverished, phylogenetically clustered yeast communities
Herrera, Carlos M × Canto, Azucena Pozo, María Bazaga, Pilar #
Printed for the Royal Society and sold by Harrison & Sons
Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences vol:277 issue:1682 pages:747-54
Identifying the rules and mechanisms that determine the composition and diversity of naturally co-occurring species assemblages is a central topic in community ecology. Although micro-organisms represent the 'unseen majority' of species, individuals and biomass in many ecosystems and play pivotal roles in community development and function, the study of the factors influencing the assembly of microbial communities has lagged behind that of plant and animal communities. In this paper, we investigate experimentally the mechanisms accounting for the low species richness of yeast communities inhabiting the nectar of the bumble-bee-pollinated Helleborus foetidus (Ranunculaceae), and explore the relationships between community assembly rules and phylogenetic relatedness. By comparing yeast communities on the glossae of foraging bumble-bees (the potential species pool) with those eventually establishing in virgin nectar probed with bee glossae (the realized community), we address the questions: (i) does nectar filter yeast inocula, so that the communities eventually established there are not random subsamples of species on bumble-bee glossae? and (ii) do yeast communities establishing in H. foetidus nectar exhibit some phylogenetic bias relative to the species pool on bumble-bee glossae? Results show that nectar filtering leads to species-poor, phylogenetically clustered yeast communities that are a predictable subset of pollinator-borne inocula. Such strong habitat filtering is probably due to H. foetidus nectar representing a harsh environment for most yeasts, where only a few phylogenetically related nectar specialists physiologically endowed to tolerate a combination of high osmotic pressure and fungicidal compounds are able to develop.