Bread, beer and wine: yeast domestication in the Saccharomyces sensu stricto complex

C R Biol. 2011 Mar;334(3):229-36. doi: 10.1016/j.crvi.2010.12.016. Epub 2011 Feb 1.


Yeasts of the Saccharomyces sensu stricto species complex are able to convert sugar into ethanol and CO(2) via fermentation. They have been used for thousands years by mankind for fermenting food and beverages. In the Neolithic times, fermentations were probably initiated by naturally occurring yeasts, and it is unknown when humans started to consciously add selected yeast to make beer, wine or bread. Interestingly, such human activities gave rise to the creation of new species in the Saccharomyces sensu stricto complex by interspecies hybridization or polyploidization. Within the S. cerevisiae species, they have led to the differentiation of genetically distinct groups according to the food process origin. Although the evolutionary history of wine yeast populations has been well described, the histories of other domesticated yeasts need further investigation.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Archaeology
  • Beer* / history
  • Bread* / history
  • Fermentation / physiology
  • Genome, Fungal
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Polyploidy
  • Saccharomyces / genetics
  • Saccharomyces / metabolism*
  • Vitis
  • Wine* / history