#FEMSmicroBlog: Happy 25th birthday, yeast genome


Saccharomyces cerevisiae plays a special role in many labs. 25 years after its sequencing as the first eukaryote, we know a lot more about yeast and its biotechnological applications. A Thematic Issue on Yeast Genomes in FEMS Yeast Research and an accompanying webinar highlight recent advances in the field. Sarah Wettstadt summarises for #FEMSmicroBlog how editor-in-chief of FEMS Yeast Research John Morrisey and several international yeast researchers see the field developing. #FascinatingMicrobes

The Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome was sequenced in 1996 in a worldwide collaboration as the first eukaryote genome. At that time, out of the almost 6000 ORFs of S. cerevisiae, approximately 1000 gene products and their functions were known. Thanks to emerging Next Generation Sequencing technologies, this soon changed. As of today, several thousands of full genome sequence datasets of Saccharomyces strains are available.

The Thematic Issue on Yeast Genomes in FEMS Yeast Research presents and celebrates advancements in the field. Additionally, a FEMS Webinar allowed the scientific community to discuss online recent scientific papers despite global travelling restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.


A Thematic Issue on yeast genomes and biodiversity

The Thematic Issue explores topics from fungal hybridization, RNA-seq data analysis, mass spectrometry, beer brewing, to the natural history of the Saccharomyces genus in several mini-reviews and a research article.

The review “Into the wild: new yeast genomes from natural environments and new tools for their analysis” by Libkind et al. discusses genomic signatures of pathogenicity and domestication of Saccharomyces and explores the long interaction of Saccharomyces with mankind. Additionally, Douglass et al. introduce the comparative genomics browser MGOB (Methylotroph Gene Order Browser) to enable gene orthology and synteny comparisons among the Pichiaceae species genomes, as highlighted in “The Methylotroph Gene Order Browser (MGOB) reveals conserved synteny and ancestral centromere locations in the yeast family Pichiaceae“.

In the review “Extracting novel hypotheses and findings from RNA-seq data”, Doughty and Kerkhoven discuss transcriptomic analyses and functional annotation to extract new information in addition to traditional gene expression read-outs. Proteome analysis further provides information on yeast functional genomics, as highlighted by Ridder et al. in “Shot-gun proteomics: why thousands of unidentified signals matter”.

The field of Yeast Genomes is fast-moving. While much still needs to be discovered, in the past 25 years we learned a lot about biodiversity, biotechnology and evolution of this versatile microorganism and its genetic makeup.


A webinar to discuss advances in yeast research

The FEMS Yeast Research Webinar on Yeast Genomes showcased the benefits that come from studying the wealth of yeast diversity in nature. Daniela Delneri and Toni Galbadón presented their research results.

Dr Delneri presented results from her paper on diversity, ecology and biogeography of the Saccharomyces genus. She told how she and her team found the new species Saccharomyces jurei while hiking. By investigating this new organism, they then managed to exploit S. jurei‘s full power by creating hybrids used in craft’s ale fermentation resulting in new aroma combinations.

Daniela’s fortuitous discovery Saccharomyces jurei is surely an inspiration to send many bench researchers to the field to identify and name a new yeast themselves!

— John Morrisey, Editor in Chief of FEMS Yeast Research

Dr Galbadón explained that he interprets yeast hybrid formation as quantum leaps in evolution. He discussed results from his recent paper showing that Saccharomycotina hybrids gain unique phenotypic traits. This might have resulted in the isolation of yeast hybrids from almost any clinical or industrial niche. The following discussion on whether human activity played a role in promoting or selecting yeast hybrids was a fascinating example of sampling bias.

Toni’s explanation of the widespread influence of hybridisation in making step-advances in yeast evolution was enlightening – even more so when he extended the analogy to humans!

— John Morrisey, Editor in Chief of FEMS Yeast Research


About FEMS Webinars

FEMS Webinars are online events to help you take part in scientific discussions, wherever you are. Researchers can attend Webinars free of charge to discuss key research published in FEMS Journal portfolios as a way to bring the benefits of scientific conferences to the comfort of your home. Each FEMS Webinar is attended by around 200-300 attendees from around the globe. Recordings of all past Webinars are available on the FEMS YouTube channel.


About the author of this blog

Dr Sarah Wettstadt is a microbiologist-turned science writer and communicator working on various outreach projects and helping researchers talk and write about their scientific results. Her overall vision is to empower through learning: she shares scientific knowledge with both scientists and non-scientists and coaches scientists in writing about their research. Sarah is blog commissioner for the FEMSmicroBlog and was a social media editor for FEMS for 1.5 years. Previous to her science communication career, she worked as a postdoc in Marían Llamas’ lab on Pseudomonas aeruginosa’s ability to use heterologous iron sources and completed her PhD with Alain Filloux investigating the type 6 secretion system in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

About this blog section

The section #FascinatingMicrobes for the #FEMSmicroBlog explains the science behind a paper and highlights the significance and broader context of a recent finding. One of the main goals is to share the fascinating spectrum of microbes across all fields of microbiology.

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The #FEMSmicroBlog welcomes external bloggers, writers and SciComm enthusiasts. Get in touch if you want to share your idea for a blog entry with us!

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