Delayed development induced by toxicity to the host can be inherited by a bacterial-dependent, transgenerational effect

Yael Fridmann-Sirkis, Shay Stern, Michael Elgart, Matana Galili, Amit Zeisel, Noam Shental, Yoav Soen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Commensal gut bacteria in many species including flies are integral part of their host, and are known to influence its development and homeostasis within generation. Here we report an unexpected impact of host-microbe interactions, which mediates multi-generational, non-Mendelian inheritance of a stress-induced phenotype. We have previously shown that exposure of fly larvae to G418 antibiotic induces transgenerationally heritable phenotypes, including a delay in larval development, gene induction in the gut and morphological changes. We now show that G418 selectively depletes commensal Acetobacter species and that this depletion explains the heritable delay, but not the inheritance of the other phenotypes. Notably, the inheritance of the delay was mediated by a surprising trans-generational effect. Specifically, bacterial removal from F1 embryos did not induce significant delay in F1 larvae, but nonetheless led to a considerable delay in F2. This effect maintains a delay induced by bacterial-independent G418 toxicity to the host. In line with these findings, reintroduction of isolated Acetobacter species prevented the inheritance of the delay. We further show that this prevention is partly mediated by vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) produced by these bacteria; exogenous Riboflavin led to partial prevention and inhibition of Riboflavin synthesis compromised the ability of the bacteria to prevent the inheritance. These results identify host-microbe interactions as a hitherto unrecognized factor capable of mediating non-Mendelian inheritance of a stress-induced phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Issue numberFEB
StatePublished - 25 Feb 2014


  • D. melanogaster
  • Epigenetics
  • Host-microbe interactions
  • Non-Mendelian inheritance
  • Stress responses

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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