Evidence for S. cerevisiae fermentation in ancient wine

J Mol Evol. 2003;57 Suppl 1:S226-32. doi: 10.1007/s00239-003-0031-2.


Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the principal yeast used in modern fermentation processes, including winemaking, breadmaking, and brewing. From residue present inside one of the earliest known wine jars from Egypt, we have extracted, amplified, and sequenced ribosomal DNA from S. cerevisiae. These results indicate that this organism was probably responsible for wine fermentation by at least 3150 B.C. This inference has major implications for the evolution of bread and beer yeasts, since it suggests that S. cerevisiae yeast, which occurs naturally on the surface bloom of grapes, was also used as an inoculum to ferment cereal products.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Fungal / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Egypt
  • Fermentation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Wine*


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA, Ribosomal