Yeast DNA

Saccharomyces Cerevisiae: DNA Sequenced in 1996
Saccharomyces Cerevisiae: DNA Sequenced in 1996

Saccharomyces cerevisiae was the first eukaryotic to have its DNA sequenced(1). It all started in 1992 when the first chromosome (III) was sequenced and published. 15 more chromosomes followed between 1994 and 1996 completing all 16 chromosomes found in the yeast. This effort was accomplished through a collaborative effort by 16 different teams working simultaneously and ultimately publishing the information freely on the web for everyone to review and use. This effort was the start of web publishing for scientific research and the open sharing of information for the advancement of science.

Why was this monumental? Because saccharomyces cerevisiae is used for more than just making, wine, beer, cider, and bread. It is used for the creation of renewable biofuels, creation of industrial and food enzymes, and creation of chemicals and acids for cosmetics and pharmaceutical uses. It is the foundation for how we are understanding other eukaryotic cells. It is also through this work that mankind is understanding how the approximate 6,000 genes that have been identified are susceptible to or capable of withstanding conditions like low pH, or how well they flocculate, or are resistant to antibodies, temperature, alcohol, and other environmental stresses. This work is also allowing the genetic engineering of strains to enhance or suppress these reactions but it also enables faster natural evolution of these genes. The ability to create a hard cider yeast that would stop fermenting at 6.5% ABV is hiding somewhere in this data.

(1) André Goffeau, Four years of post-genomic life with 6000 yeast genes, FEBS Letters 480 (2000) 37-41.

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