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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Microbiota-mediated competition between Drosophila species

Rombaut, Antoine; Gallet, Romain; Qitout, Kenza; Samy, Mukherjy; Guilhot, Robin; Ghirardini, Pauline; Lazzaro, Brian P.; Becher, Paul G.; Xuereb, Anne; Gibert, Patricia; Fellous, Simon


Background The influence of microbiota in ecological interactions, and in particular competition, is poorly known. We studied competition between two insect species, the invasive pest Drosophila suzukii and the model Drosophila melanogaster, whose larval ecological niches overlap in ripe, but not rotten, fruit.Results We discovered D. suzukii females prevent costly interspecific larval competition by avoiding oviposition on substrates previously visited by D. melanogaster. More precisely, D. melanogaster association with gut bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus triggered D. suzukii avoidance. However, D. suzukii avoidance behavior is condition-dependent, and D. suzukii females that themselves carry D. melanogaster bacteria stop avoiding sites visited by D. melanogaster. The adaptive significance of avoiding cues from the competitor's microbiota was revealed by experimentally reproducing in-fruit larval competition: reduced survival of D. suzukii larvae only occurred if the competitor had its normal microbiota.Conclusions This study establishes microbiotas as potent mediators of interspecific competition and reveals a central role for context-dependent behaviors under bacterial influence.


Microbiota; Symbiosis; Competition; Agroecology

Published in

2023, Volume: 11, number: 1, article number: 201
Publisher: BMC

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Behavioral Sciences Biology

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