by Piter Kehoma Boll
Living along humans for centuries, today’s Friday Fellow is certainly one of the most beloved fungi. Scientifically known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, its common names in English include baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast or ale’s yeast.
Under the microscope, the cells of this single-celled species are ellipsoid or sphere-shaped and usually show small buds from new cells growing from the larger one. But you may have seen this species being sold as tablets or grains in the supermarket, as they are used to make bread and many alcoholic bevarages, such as wine and beer, but the baker’s yeast is much more interesting than just that.
The cells of the baker’s yeast occur naturally on ripe fruits, such as grapes, and this was likely the original source of the strains currently cultivated by humans. The yeast reaches the fruits through many wasp species that have it growing in their intestines, an ideal environment for the fungus’ sexual reproduction.
As it is easily cultivated in the lab and has a short generation time, the baker’s yeast has become one of the most important model organisms in current biological studies. It was, in fact, the first eukaryotic organism to have its whole genome sequenced more than 20 years ago.
More than giving us food and drink, this amazing yeast has increased our understanding of gene expression, DNA repair and aging, among many other things. Live long the yeast!
– – –
Giaever, G.; Chu, A. M.; Ni, L.; Connelly, C. et al. (2002) Functional profiling of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome. Nature 418 (6896): 387-391.
Herskowitz, I. (1988) Life cycle of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Microbiological Reviews 52 (4): 536-553.
Wikipedia. Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saccharomyces_cerevisiae >. Access on July 25, 2017.
– – –
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.