Supplementary material from "Variation at an adhesin locus suggests sociality in natural populations of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae"

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Microbes engage in numerous social behaviours that are critical for survival and reproduction, and that require individuals to act as a collective. Various mechanisms ensure that collectives are composed of related, cooperating cells, thus allowing for the evolution and stability of these traits, and for selection to favour traits beneficial to the collective. Since microbes are difficult to observe directly, sociality in natural populations can instead be investigated using evolutionary genetic signatures, as social loci can be evolutionary hotspots. The budding yeast has been studied for over a century, yet little is known about its social behaviour in nature. Flo11 is a highly regulated cell adhesin required for most laboratory social phenotypes; studies suggest it may function in cell recognition and its heterogeneous expression may be adaptive for collectives such as biofilms. We investigated this locus and found positive selection in the areas implicated in cell–cell interaction, suggesting selection for kin discrimination. We also found balancing selection at an upstream activation site, suggesting selection on the level of variegated gene expression. Our results suggest this model yeast is surprisingly social in natural environments and is likely engaging in various forms of sociality. By using genomic data, this research provides a glimpse of otherwise unobservable interactions.


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