The baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been associated with human activities for thousands of years, being the primary biological agent in baking, brewing, winemaking and other fermentation processes.
It is also one of the most important model organisms in molecular biology and genetics research. For a long time, the history and evolution of this important yeast has been a completely mystery, but recent advances in genome sequencing technologies now allow it to be studied in great detail.
Using next-generation sequencing, corresponding author Gianni Liti et. al. provide a detailed characterization of the genetic variation present within the baker's yeast species. They sequenced the genomes of 42 strains of S. cerevisiae and its closest relative S. paradoxus, which is an entirely wild species that has not had any contact with humans.
A central finding of this study is that even though strains in S. paradoxus are separated by much greater genetic distances in terms of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the S. cerevisiae strain genomes harbor more variation in terms of absence and presence and copy number of genes.
It has previously been observed that trait variation is also much larger in S. cerevisiae than in its wild relative. These new results therefore raise the intriguing hypothesis that this variation in the content of the genome, rather than single-nucleotide differences, underlies the large phenotypic variation in S. cerevisiae.
The authors find that the subtelomeric regions of the genomes, located just before the telomeres at each chromosome end, are highly enriched for genome variation that is likely to contribute to differences in traits between strains. This includes loss-of-function mutations that likely disrupt the function of whole genes. As an example of functional variation they describe how differences in the copy number of a subtelomeric gene cluster controls the ability of strains to grow under arsenic stress, and demonstrate that this variation is the product of convergent evolution in yeast lineages in different parts of the world.
"These genome sequences allowed us to expose surprising differences between the evolutionary histories of the common baker's yeast and its wild relative. Our results suggest that the very large diversity in traits observed between strains of baker's yeast might mostly be due to the presence or absence of entire genes rather than differences in single DNA letters."
The study provides intriguing insights into the recent history of this important organism and the relationship between genome variation and trait variation. Future research will further elucidate what role humans have played in shaping the evolution of baker's yeast, for example the extent to which the genomic variation is a consequence of yeast strains moving into novel habitats and niches opened up by human activities.
Joe Caspermeyer | EurekAlert!
Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University
Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences