"Analysing so many strains has helped us to bring the small branches of Darwin's 'Tree of Life' into focus," said Dr Steve James of the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) at the Institute of Food Research.
"We can sift through billions of DNA bases to clearly spot a wild yeast or the mosaic genome of a recent hybrid," says Dr Ian Roberts, leader of the NCYC research team and the collection's curator.
"This is a valuable test bed for the 1000 genomes project, in which the genomes of 1000 people are being sequenced," said Professor Ed Louis from the University of Nottingham. "This number of organisms has never been sequenced before."
The basic machinery of yeast is surprisingly similar to that of humans, and the project is already helping experts to develop the tools necessary for studying human genetic variation. Yeast can also be used to develop and test new drugs, such as for cancer.
The analysis to be published in Nature on Wednesday enables the scientists to study genetics in much finer detail than was ever possible for Darwin. They are able to see the differences within a species and use this knowledge in understanding yeast biodiversity and exploiting it for human benefit.
"Amongst other things, this dataset will help us to understand how yeast probiotics contribute to gut health," says Dr Roberts.
The scientists analysed strains that have long been associated with human activity (such as baking, wine and sake) and wild strains, mostly from oak bark. They found that rather than all being derived from one common ancestor, humans have domesticated yeast strains at many points in history and from many different sources.
The association between man and yeast stretches back thousands of years. Recent findings from the Malaysian rainforest of chronic intake of alcoholic nectar by wild treeshrews suggest that the association between fermented beverages and primates is ancient and not exclusive to humans.
Yeast production is a multi-billion dollar industry for brewing, baking, biofuel production, probiotics, and medical applications. The strains used in this study are publicly available alongside several thousand other yeasts at www.ncyc.co.uk.
The collection is supported at the IFR by the BBSRC and seeks to make yeast strains and knowledge available to industrial and academic scientists in an equitable and efficient manner. The IFR is an Institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
Zoe Dunford | EurekAlert!
Maelstroms in the heart
22.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Dynamik und Selbstorganisation
Decoding the structure of the huntingtin protein
22.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
22.02.2018 | Business and Finance
22.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
22.02.2018 | Life Sciences