Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wine yeasts reveal prehistoric microbial world

11.05.2011
When having a glass of wine or beer, have you ever wondered why and how yeast “learnt” to produce these superb food products?

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:
Jure Piškur, Professor of Molecular Genetics at Lund University
tel.: +46 46 2228373 or +46 70 3457103
email: Jure.Piskur@biol.lu.se

Megan Grindlay | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se
http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v2/n5/full/ncomms1305.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>