Yeasts are unicellular fungi and so far over 1 500 different species have been described. Among them are important industrial organisms, pathogens and model organisms which help us to understand how eukaryotic cells work.
However, one of the most well-known characteristics of yeast is the ability of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, baker’s yeast, to ferment sugar to 2-carbon components, in particular ethanol, without completely oxidising it to carbon dioxide, even in the presence of oxygen, as many other microbes do. This fermentative ability is essential for the production of wine, beer and many other alcoholic beverages.
Why do Saccharomyces yeasts actually do this and what were the driving forces behind the evolution of this phenomenon?
For several years, the yeast molecular genetics group at Lund University in Sweden and their counterparts in Milan have been trying to reconstruct the evolutionary history of ethanol production. In their recent article published in Nature Communications (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms1305) they compared two wine yeasts, S. cerevisiae and Dekkera bruxellensis, which in nature often occupy a similar niche, using a variety of approaches including comparative genomics which enabled them to add the time dimension to their molecular reconstructions.
The two yeasts studied are not very closely related and the two lineages separated more than 200 million years ago. However, approximately 100–150 million years ago, both yeasts experienced very similar environmental conditions, with the sudden appearance of modern fruits containing high amounts of available sugars, and environmental pressures, such as fierce competition from other microbes. Both lineages, independently and in parallel, developed the ability to make and accumulate ethanol in the presence of oxygen, and resistance to high ethanol concentration, and have been using this ability as a weapon to outcompete other microbes which are very sensitive to ethanol. Surprisingly, both yeasts used the same molecular tool, global promoter rewiring, to change the regulation pattern of the expression of hundreds of genes involved in sugar degradation.
“Our results now help to reconstruct the original environment and evolutionary trends that operated within the microbial community in the remote past,” says Jure Piškur, who is a professor of molecular genetics at Lund University and at the University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia.
“In addition, we can now use the knowledge we have obtained to develop new yeast strains, which could be beneficial for wine and beer fermentation and in biofuel production.”For more information, please contact:
Megan Grindlay | idw
Complementing conventional antibiotics
24.05.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy