Microbe domestication has a major applied relevance but is still poorly understood from an evolutionary perspective. The yeast Torulaspora delbrueckii is gaining importance for biotechnology but little is known about its population structure, variation in gene content or possible domestication routes. Here, we show that T. delbrueckii is composed of five major clades. Among the three European clades, a lineage associated with the wild arboreal niche is sister to the two other lineages that are linked to anthropic environments, one to wine fermentations and the other to diverse sources including dairy products and bread dough (Mix-Anthropic clade). Using 64 genomes we assembled the pangenome and the variable genome of T. delbrueckii. A comparison with Saccharomyces cerevisiae indicated that the weight of the variable genome in the pangenome of T. delbrueckii is considerably smaller. An association of gene content and ecology supported the hypothesis that the Mix-Anthropic clade has the most specialized genome and indicated that some of the exclusive genes were implicated in galactose and maltose utilization. More detailed analyses traced the acquisition of a cluster of GAL genes in strains associated with dairy products and the expansion and functional diversification of MAL genes in strains isolated from bread dough. In contrast to S. cerevisiae, domestication in T. delbrueckii is not primarily driven by alcoholic fermentation but rather by adaptation to dairy and bread-production niches. This study expands our views on the processes of microbe domestication and on the trajectories leading to adaptation to anthropic niches.
- galactose metabolization gene
- maltose metabolization gene
- microbe domestication
- microbial genomics
- pangenome and variable genome
- Torulaspora delbrueckii