The microorganisms that live within animals’ guts are important for regulating many aspects of their host’s physiology, including immune responses, energy metabolism, development, and growth. The relatively simple gut microbiota of the fruit fly Drosophila are particularly important in nutrient-poor conditions. Shin et al. identified a single bacterial member of the fruit fly’s gut community (Acetobacter pomorum) that could replace the fly’s five-member gut flora. The function of one bacterial gene product required for the oxidation of ethanol—pyrroloquinoline quinine–dependent alcohol dehydrogenase—was key to the metabolic generation of acetic acid and for successful development of fly larvae.
S. C. Shin, S.-H. Kim, H. You, B. Kim, A. C. Kim, K.-A. Lee, J.-H. Yoon, J.-H. Ryu, W.-J. Lee, Drosophila microbiome modulates host developmental and metabolic homeostasis via insulin signaling. Science 334, 670–674 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]