Anales del Jardín Botánico de Madrid, Vol 72, No 1 (2015)

Comparative effects of two species of floricolous Metschnikowia yeasts on nectar

Azucena Canto
Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán, Mexico

Carlos M. Herrera
Estación Biológica de Doñana, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain

Isabel M. García
Estación Biológica de Doñana, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain

Marina García
Estación Biológica de Doñana, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain

Pilar Bazaga
Estación Biológica de Doñana, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain


Nectar yeast communities in southern Spain are dominated by two closely-related species, Metschnikowia reukaufii Pitt & M.W. Mill. and M. gruessii Gim.-Jurado (Ascomycota, Saccharomycetales), although they tend to be distributed differentially across different host plants. We explore here the possibility that the two yeasts play different functional roles in floral nectar by differing in their impact on sugar concentration and composition of nectar. Experiments were undertaken under controlled conditions using bumblebees caught foraging on the flowers of two different host plants each of which is known to harbor predominantly one of the two yeasts. Bumblebees were used as sources of inocula to obtain two groups of samples from the nectar of Helleborus foetidus L. (Ranunculaceae): nectar samples inoculated with M. gruessii and samples inoculated with M. reukaufii. Metschnikowia gruessii was poorly represented in nectar samples, while M. reukaufii was by far the most common and had the highest cell density. Although the two yeasts caused relatively similar changes in nectar sugar composition, which involved increasing fructose and decreasing sucrose proportions, they marginally differed in their quantitative impact on total nectar sugar concentration. Results suggest that differential yeast occurrence across host plants may lead to yeast specialization and modify the outcomes of the plant-pollinator interface.


Bombus terrestris, fructose, Helleborus foetidus, nectar-living yeasts, Rosmarinus officinalis, sucrose

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