Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unstable chromosome regions are the origin of yeast's brewing capacity, researchers find

Date:
May 16, 2010
Source:
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Summary:
The ability of yeast cells to convert sugar to alcohol arose in unstable regions of the chromosomes, researchers have found. The genes that allow yeast to digest sugars in fruits and grains have been duplicated several times over the course of time -- allowing for optimal conversion of different types of sugars (such as sucrose and maltose) into alcohol. Genes at the outskirts of the chromosomes are prone to rapid evolution and adaptation.

The ability of yeast cells to convert sugar to alcohol, the key process in the production of beer and wine, can be attributed to a remarkable evolutionary process. The genes that allow yeast to digest sugars in fruits and grains have been duplicated several times over the course of time -- allowing for optimal conversion of different types of sugars (such as sucrose and maltose) into alcohol. The duplications arose because the genes for sugar processing are situated close to the unstable margin of the chromosome. The phenomenon appears not to be limited to alcohol production in yeast, but forms an important principle in the evolution of living organisms.

The results are presented in a study by Kevin Verstrepen from K.U.Leuven and VIB, a life sciences institute in Flanders, Belgium, Andrew Murray from Harvard University, and Chris Brown, a joint student of Verstrepen and Murray. The journal Current Biology unveils the study.

Duplication of existing genes is an important evolutionary process

Living beings evolve generation after generation because their genetic material changes gradually. It remains a mystery how life, in a relatively short time, develops completely new properties. It is unlikely that they just appear out of nothing. Recent research, amongst others by VIB-scientists, showed that the duplication of existing genes can play a crucial role. One copy can retain the original function of the gene while the new copy may develop a new function. This can sometimes be very different from the original gene.

Living on the edge increases your chances of being duplicated

In the new study, Chris Brown, a PhD student in Verstrepen΄s lab, shows that some genes that are closely located in the ends of the chromosomes, are duplicated more often. The ends of chromosomes, called subtelomeres, seem to function as evolutionary laboratories of our cells. New genes are continuously developed and tested in these "gene nurseries."

Duplication process is of great importance for beer yeast

It appears that duplication at the subtelomeres already occurred in the ancestor of our industrial beer and wine yeasts- Modern strains of beer yeast contain five to ten copies of a prehistoric gene that allows for some sugars to be digested. Each of these modern copies ensures that yeast can digest a particular sugar, and this is much faster than the prehistoric yeast. The massive duplications occurred probably around the Cretaceous era (66 to 145 million years ago). It was no coincidence that this involved the same period in which sweet fruits and grains developed. The duplication of the genes and the further evolution thereof, allowed yeast cells to digest the different sugars in the fruits. In this way, the subtelomeric "gene copying laboratory" ensured that yeasts were able to conquer a new niche. Interestingly, it seems likely that similar subtelomeric gene duplication also stimulates evolution and adaptation in higher organisms, including humans.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chris A. Brown, Andrew W. Murray, and Kevin J. Verstrepen. Rapid Expansion and Functional Divergence of Subtelomeric Gene Families in Yeasts. Current Biology, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.04.027

Cite This Page:

VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). "Unstable chromosome regions are the origin of yeast's brewing capacity, researchers find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100514094834.htm>.
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). (2010, May 16). Unstable chromosome regions are the origin of yeast's brewing capacity, researchers find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100514094834.htm
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). "Unstable chromosome regions are the origin of yeast's brewing capacity, researchers find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100514094834.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) — The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins