Nav: Home

Modern beer yeast emerged from mix of European grape wine, Asian rice wine yeast

March 05, 2019

For thousands of years brewers made beer using specialized strains of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The historical origins of brewer's yeast are not well understood, however, as brewing predates the discovery of microbes. A new study publishing March 5 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, led by Justin Fay at the University of Rochester, shows that modern brewing strains were derived from a mixture of European grape wine and Asian rice wine strains. This finding points to the emergence of beer yeast from a historical East-West transfer of fermentation technology, similar to the transfer of domesticated plants and animals by way of the Silk Route.

The historical origins of any domesticated organism are often clouded by recent migration, gene flow and mixing with other groups. While analysis of ancient DNA has been a boon to reconstructing many historical events, ancient fermented beverages and the microbes used to produce them are not available. However, many beer strains are known to be polyploid--having more than two copies of their genome--which allows them to remain isolated from other populations and provides researchers with a living relic of their ancestors.

To reconstruct the history of beer strains, the researchers sequenced and compared the genomes of beer strains to a panel of reference strains from around the world. The beer strains formed four related groups: two ale, one lager and one group containing both beer and baking strains. All of these groups show mixed ancestry from both European grape wine strains and Asian rice wine strains. The strains also contain novel gene variants not present in any other population. The origin of these novel variants is less clear, but their abundance suggests they were derived from an uncharacterized or extinct population. A complete reconstruction of the order and timing of events during the evolution of beer strains is difficult since their polyploid genome is not static. Changes in their polyploid genome have occurred during cell divisions, generating beer strain diversity and likely playing an important role in specialization to various brewing styles.
-end-
Peer-reviewed / Experimental Study / Cells

In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Biology: http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000147

Citation: Fay JC, Liu P, Ong GT, Dunham MJ, Cromie GA, Jeffery EW, et al. (2019) A polyploid admixed origin of beer yeasts derived from European and Asian wine populations. PLoS Biol 17(3): e3000147. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000147

Funding: This work was supported by a National Institutes of Health grant (GM080669) to J. Fay, the Rita Allen Foundation, a gift from Karl Handelsman, and a National Science Foundation grant (1516330) to M. Dunham. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLOS

Related Beer Articles:

Gluten-free beer from Witkop teff grains
For celiac patients and others on gluten-free diets, it seems like gluten is everywhere -- cakes, cookies and breads.
Exchanging one sugar-sweetened soft drink or beer with water is associated with lower incidence of obesity
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity shows that replacing one serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink or one beer a day with a glass of water could reduce the risk of becoming obese by 20 percent.
Analysis yields clues to chemical composition, natural aging of 100-year-old beer
Stashed away and long-forgotten, a trio of century-old bottled beers recently discovered in the Czech Republic could help scientists better understand early 20th-century brewing practices, as well as the chemical changes that occur in beer over long periods of time.
Detecting potentially harmful mycotoxins in beer
Beer is one of the world's most popular alcoholic beverages.
Beer yeasts show surprising diversity, genome study finds
The yeasts responsible for fermenting your favorite frothy ale have a surprisingly complicated past, according to researchers reporting in Current Biology on Oct.
Beer eases final moments for euthanized invertebrates, study finds
A scientist sought a humane way to end the lives of snails in a laboratory.
The history of beer yeast
Today's industrial yeast strains are used to make beer, wine, bread, biofuels, and more, but their evolutionary history is not well studied.
Reducing the harms of alcohol through weaker beer
Could a small drop in the alcohol content of beer or other drinks reduce the harmful effects of alcohol in society at large?
Music makes beer taste better
Music can influence how much you like the taste of beer, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology.
An app knows if a beer has gone stale
Chemists at the Complutense University of Madrid have developed a method that allows brewers to measure the freshness of beer, using a polymer sensor that changes color upon detecting furfural, a compound that appears when this beverage ages and gives it a stale flavor.

Related Beer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".