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Concept: Brewing


Whereas domestication of livestock, pets, and crops is well documented, it is still unclear to what extent microbes associated with the production of food have also undergone human selection and where the plethora of industrial strains originates from. Here, we present the genomes and phenomes of 157 industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeasts. Our analyses reveal that today’s industrial yeasts can be divided into five sublineages that are genetically and phenotypically separated from wild strains and originate from only a few ancestors through complex patterns of domestication and local divergence. Large-scale phenotyping and genome analysis further show strong industry-specific selection for stress tolerance, sugar utilization, and flavor production, while the sexual cycle and other phenotypes related to survival in nature show decay, particularly in beer yeasts. Together, these results shed light on the origins, evolutionary history, and phenotypic diversity of industrial yeasts and provide a resource for further selection of superior strains. PAPERCLIP.

Concepts: Phenotype, Fungus, Genome, Brewing, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Natural selection, Evolution, Gene


During the beer brewing process, bitter tasting cis and trans iso-α-acids are generated from the precursor α-acids found in hops. The absolute configurations of the α-acid (-)-humulone and several of its derivatives have now been elucidated by X-ray crystallography, thus resolving decades of confusion over the humulone isomerization mechanism.

Concepts: X-ray, X-ray crystallography, Brewery, Beer, Hops, Brewing


Intracellular triacylglycerol (TAG) is a ubiquitous energy storage lipid also involved in lipid homeostasis and signaling. Comparatively, little is known about TAG’s role in other cellular functions. Here we show a pro-longevity function of TAG in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In yeast strains derived from natural and laboratory environments a correlation between high levels of TAG and longer chronological lifespan was observed. Increased TAG abundance through the deletion of TAG lipases prolonged chronological lifespan of laboratory strains, while diminishing TAG biosynthesis shortened lifespan without apparently affecting vegetative growth. TAG-mediated lifespan extension was independent of several other known stress response factors involved in chronological aging. Because both lifespan regulation and TAG metabolism are conserved, this cellular pro-longevity function of TAG may extend to other organisms.

Concepts: Model organism, Organism, Brewing, Fungus, Saccharomyces pastorianus, Metabolism, Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae


Beyond its classical biotechnological applications such as food and beverage production or as a cell factory, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a valuable model organism to study fundamental mechanisms of cell response to stressful environmental changes. Acetic acid is a physiological product of yeast fermentation and it is a well-known food preservative due to its antimicrobial action. Acetic acid has recently been shown to cause yeast cell death and aging. Here we shall focus on the molecular mechanisms of S. cerevisiae stress adaptation and programmed cell death in response to acetic acid. We shall elaborate on the intracellular signaling pathways involved in the cross-talk of pro-survival and pro-death pathways underlying the importance of understanding fundamental aspects of yeast cell homeostasis to improve the performance of a given yeast strain in biotechnological applications.

Concepts: Ethanol, Fungus, Saccharomyces pastorianus, Bacteria, Brewing, Model organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Yeast


Many crops display differential geographic phenotypes and sensorial signatures, encapsulated by the concept of terroir. The drivers behind these differences remain elusive, and the potential contribution of microbes has been ignored until recently. Significant genetic differentiation between microbial communities and populations from different geographic locations has been demonstrated, but crucially it has not been shown whether this correlates with differential agricultural phenotypes or not. Using wine as a model system, we utilize the regionally genetically differentiated population of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in New Zealand and objectively demonstrate that these populations differentially affect wine phenotype, which is driven by a complex mix of chemicals. These findings reveal the importance of microbial populations for the regional identity of wine, and potentially extend to other important agricultural commodities. Moreover, this suggests that long-term implementation of methods maintaining differential biodiversity may have tangible economic imperatives as well as being desirable in terms of employing agricultural practices that increase responsible environmental stewardship.

Concepts: Natural selection, Region, Evolution, Gene, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Brewing, Model organism, Microbiology


Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (BIAs) are a diverse family of plant-specialized metabolites that include the pharmaceuticals codeine and morphine and their derivatives. Microbial synthesis of BIAs holds promise as an alternative to traditional crop-based manufacturing. Here we demonstrate the production of the key BIA intermediate (S)-reticuline from glucose in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To aid in this effort, we developed an enzyme-coupled biosensor for the upstream intermediate L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA). Using this sensor, we identified an active tyrosine hydroxylase and improved its L-DOPA yields by 2.8-fold via PCR mutagenesis. Coexpression of DOPA decarboxylase enabled what is to our knowledge the first demonstration of dopamine production from glucose in yeast, with a 7.4-fold improvement in titer obtained for our best mutant enzyme. We extended this pathway to fully reconstitute the seven-enzyme pathway from L-tyrosine to (S)-reticuline. Future work to improve titers and connect these steps with downstream pathway branches, already demonstrated in S. cerevisiae, will enable low-cost production of many high-value BIAs.

Concepts: Cell cycle, Yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus, L-DOPA, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Brewing, Fungus, Dopamine


Saccharomyces cerevisiae is one of the most important model organisms and has been a valuable asset to human civilization. However, despite its extensive use in the last 9,000 y, the existence of a seasonal cycle outside human-made environments has not yet been described. We demonstrate the role of social wasps as vector and natural reservoir of S. cerevisiae during all seasons. We provide experimental evidence that queens of social wasps overwintering as adults (Vespa crabro and Polistes spp.) can harbor yeast cells from autumn to spring and transmit them to their progeny. This result is mirrored by field surveys of the genetic variability of natural strains of yeast. Microsatellites and sequences of a selected set of loci able to recapitulate the yeast strain’s evolutionary history were used to compare 17 environmental wasp isolates with a collection of strains from grapes from the same region and more than 230 strains representing worldwide yeast variation. The wasp isolates fall into subclusters representing the overall ecological and industrial yeast diversity of their geographic origin. Our findings indicate that wasps are a key environmental niche for the evolution of natural S. cerevisiae populations, the dispersion of yeast cells in the environment, and the maintenance of their diversity. The close relatedness of several wasp isolates with grape and wine isolates reflects the crucial role of human activities on yeast population structure, through clonal expansion and selection of specific strains during the biotransformation of fermented foods, followed by dispersal mediated by insects and other animals.

Concepts: Ecology, Natural environment, Evolution, Brewing, Model organism, Fungus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Yeast


Morphinan alkaloids are the most powerful narcotic analgesics currently used to treat moderate to severe and chronic pain. The feasibility of morphinan synthesis in recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae starting from the precursor (R,S)-norlaudanosoline was investigated. Chiral analysis of the reticuline produced by the expression of opium poppy methyltransferases showed strict enantioselectivity for (S)-reticuline starting from (R,S)-norlaudanosoline. In addition, the P. somniferum enzymes salutaridine synthase (PsSAS), salutaridine reductase (PsSAR) and salutaridinol acetyltransferase (PsSAT) were functionally co-expressed in S. cerevisiae and optimization of the pH conditions allowed for productive spontaneous rearrangement of salutaridinol-7-O-acetate and synthesis of thebaine from ®-reticuline. Finally, we reconstituted a 7-gene pathway for the production of codeine and morphine from ®-reticuline. Yeast cell feeding assays using ®-reticuline, salutaridine or codeine as substrates showed that all enzymes were functionally co-expressed in yeast and that activity of salutaridine reductase and codeine-O-demethylase likely limit flux to morphine synthesis. The results of this study describe a significant advance for the synthesis of morphinans in S. cerevisiae and pave the way for their complete synthesis in recombinant microbes.

Concepts: Yeast, Codeine, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Opium, Brewing, Fungus, Opium poppy, Morphine


The inability of native Saccharomyces cerevisiae to convert xylose from plant biomass into biofuels remains a major challenge for the production of renewable bioenergy. Despite extensive knowledge of the regulatory networks controlling carbon metabolism in yeast, little is known about how to reprogram S. cerevisiae to ferment xylose at rates comparable to glucose. Here we combined genome sequencing, proteomic profiling, and metabolomic analyses to identify and characterize the responsible mutations in a series of evolved strains capable of metabolizing xylose aerobically or anaerobically. We report that rapid xylose conversion by engineered and evolved S. cerevisiae strains depends upon epistatic interactions among genes encoding a xylose reductase (GRE3), a component of MAP Kinase (MAPK) signaling (HOG1), a regulator of Protein Kinase A (PKA) signaling (IRA2), and a scaffolding protein for mitochondrial iron-sulfur (Fe-S) cluster biogenesis (ISU1). Interestingly, the mutation in IRA2 only impacted anaerobic xylose consumption and required the loss of ISU1 function, indicating a previously unknown connection between PKA signaling, Fe-S cluster biogenesis, and anaerobiosis. Proteomic and metabolomic comparisons revealed that the xylose-metabolizing mutant strains exhibit altered metabolic pathways relative to the parental strain when grown in xylose. Further analyses revealed that interacting mutations in HOG1 and ISU1 unexpectedly elevated mitochondrial respiratory proteins and enabled rapid aerobic respiration of xylose and other non-fermentable carbon substrates. Our findings suggest a surprising connection between Fe-S cluster biogenesis and signaling that facilitates aerobic respiration and anaerobic fermentation of xylose, underscoring how much remains unknown about the eukaryotic signaling systems that regulate carbon metabolism.

Concepts: Brewing, Carbon dioxide, Enzyme, Protein, Cellular respiration, Adenosine triphosphate, Yeast, Metabolism


Hops (Humulus lupulus L.) are traditionally used to add bitterness and flavour to beer. Although the isomerised hop extracts produced by the brewing process have been thought to ameliorate lipid and glucose metabolism, the influence of untreated hop extracts on high-fat (HF) diet-induced obesity is unclear. The present study examined the anti-obesity effects of a hop extract in male C57BL/6J mice fed a HF diet, or HF diet plus 2 or 5 % hop extract for 20 weeks. The oral glucose tolerance test was performed at week 19. Furthermore, water excretion was evaluated in water-loaded Balb/c male mice. The effects of the extract on lipid accumulation and PPARγ expression in 3T3-L1 adipocytes were examined. The hop extract inhibited the increase in body and adipose tissue weight, adipose cell diameter and liver lipids induced by the HF diet. Furthermore, it improved glucose intolerance. The extract enhanced water excretion in water-loaded mice. Various fractions of the hop extract inhibited lipid accumulation and PPARγ expression in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Hop extracts might be useful for preventing obesity and glucose intolerance caused by a HF diet.

Concepts: Brewing, Insulin resistance, Hops, Insulin, Glucose tolerance test, Adipose tissue, Humulus lupulus, Fat