Monday, October 07, 2019

History of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been widely used by humans for thousands of years and is arguably one of the most important microbial species in human history. Archaeologists have found evidence for the production of a fermented beverage in China at 7000 BC, and of wine in Iran and Egypt at 6000 BC and 3000 BC.

Archaeological evidence of brewing activity was found on Sumerian tablets dating to about 1800 BC although the origins may well go back to around 10 000 years ago. The text found on these tablets sings the praises of the Sumerian goddess of brewing in the ‘Hymn to Ninkasi’. Since that time, mankind has discovered that the goddess that caused the ‘magic’ is in fact the living organism, yeast. Ancient brewers domesticated yeast due to selection of the best fermentation agent.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a robust yeast that is capable of withstanding stressful conditions and has a high fermentation efficiency, rapid growth, effective sugar use, the ability to produce and consume ethanol, tolerance of high ethanol concentrations and low levels of oxygen, osmotolerance, thermotolerance, and cell activity in acidic environments, which are fundamental to its industrial use-fullness.

The genus and species names, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also can be traced to earlier origins. Saccharomyces means sugar mold or fungus and cerevisiae has its origin in the Gaelic word kerevigia and the old French word cervoise.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek described yeast in 1680 with the aid of handmade wax globules, whereas Charles Cagniard de la Tour reported in 1838 that yeast was responsible for alcoholic fermentation. By the end of the 19th century, improved strains were selected by the use of pure culture technique.

Whilst it is also useful for raising bread, producing fuel, and expressing desirable engineered proteins, it was the demand for alcoholic beverages that motivated the scientific study of yeast by Pasteur (1897) and the Carlsberg Research Laboratories (1896). Since then Saccharomyces cerevisiae has achieved a second distinction: it is the best understood genetic model organism. Saccharomyces cerevisiae was the first eukaryote to have its genome completely sequenced.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae