Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New sequencing tools give up close look at yeast evolution

Highlights in this week's Molecular Biology and Evolution

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!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Understanding a missing link in how antidepressants work
25.11.2015 | Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, München

nachricht Plant Defense as a Biotech Tool
25.11.2015 | Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (ACIB)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

Im Focus: Climate Change: Warm water is mixing up life in the Arctic

AWI researchers’ unique 15-year observation series reveals how sensitive marine ecosystems in polar regions are to change

The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Harnessing a peptide holds promise for increasing crop yields without more fertilizer

25.11.2015 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Earth's magnetic field is not about to flip

25.11.2015 | Earth Sciences

Tracking down the 'missing' carbon from the Martian atmosphere

25.11.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>