Engineering yeast to make improved beer

Engineering yeast to make improved beer

Since the discovery of Saccharomyces carlsbergensis by Emil Hansen in 1908, the genetics of brewer’s yeast has been the subject of many modifications, some natural and some engineered by scientists. Now, classified within the species of Saccharomyces Pastorianus, this allopolyploid is used in 90% of the world’s lager production while the close relative Saccharomyces Cerevisiae is the primary fermenter in ale production. These are multi-billion dollar industries that must meet both consumer and manufacturer demands.

Naturally occurring strain variations in brewer’s yeasts were shown long ago to have significant effects on the production process and final product. Hence, the engineering of brewer’s yeast to produce improved strains is used by industry to improve flavour, variety and quality, while also striving to minimise cost and maximise production efficiency. New strategies of inverse metabolic engineering are now possible due to developments in bioinformatics and no doubt further developments will take place in the future.

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