Nectar yeasts: a natural microcosm for ecology.
Yeast (Chichester, England)
2018; 35 (6): 417–23
The species of yeasts that colonize floral nectar can modify the mutualistic relationships between plants and pollinators by changing the chemical properties of nectar. Recent evidence supporting this possibility has led to increased interest among ecologists in studying these fungi as well as the bacteria that interact with them in nectar. Although not fully explored, nectar yeasts also constitute a promising natural microcosm that can be used to facilitate development of general ecological theory. We discuss the methodological and conceptual advantages of using nectar yeasts from this perspective, including simplicity of communities, tractability of dispersal, replicability of community assembly, and the ease with which the mechanisms of species interactions can be studied in complementary experiments conducted in the field and the laboratory. To illustrate the power of nectar yeasts as a study system, we discuss several topics in community ecology, including environmental filtering, priority effects, and metacommunity dynamics. An exciting new direction is to integrate metagenomics and comparative genomics into nectar yeast research to address these fundamental ecological topics.
View details for PubMedID 29476620