Wolbachia interacts with the microbiome to shape fitness-associated traits during seasonal adaptation in Drosophila melanogaster

L. P. Henry, M. Fernandez, S. Wolf and J. Ayroles,  bioRxiv,  2022.05.31.494239. 2022.

The microbiome contributes to many different host traits, but its role in host adaptation remains enigmatic. The fitness benefits of the microbiome often depend on ecological conditions, but fluctuations in both the microbiome and environment modulate these fitness benefits. Moreover, vertically transmitted bacteria might constrain the ability of both the microbiome and host to respond to changing environments. Drosophila melanogaster provides an excellent system to investigate the evolutionary effects of interactions between the microbiome and the environment. To address this question, we created field mesocosms of D. melanogaster undergoing seasonal adaptation with and without the vertically transmitted bacteria, Wolbachia pipientis. Sampling temporal patterns in the microbiome revealed that Wolbachia constrained microbial diversity. Furthermore, interactions between Wolbachia and the microbiome contributed to fitness-associated traits. Wolbachia often exerted negative fitness effects on hosts, and the microbiome modulated these effects. Our work supports recent theoretical advances suggesting that hosts in temporally fluctuating environments benefit from flexible microbial associations with low transmission fidelity–specifically when changes in the microbiome can better enable host phenotypes to match environment change. We conclude by exploring the consequences of complex interactions between Wolbachia and the microbiome for our understanding of eco-evolutionary processes and the utility of Wolbachia in combating vector-borne disease.C

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