Sake yeasts belong to the budding yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae and have high fermentation activity and ethanol production. Although the traditional crossbreeding of sake yeasts is a time-consuming and inefficient process due to the low sporulation rates and spore viability of these strains, considerable effort has been devoted to the development of hybrid strains with superior brewing characteristics. In the present work, we describe a growth selection system for a- and α-type cells aimed at the crossbreeding of industrial yeasts, and performed hybridizations with sake yeast strains Kyokai No. 6, No. 7 and No. 9 to examine the feasibility of this approach. We successfully generated both a- and α-type strains from all parental strains, and acquired six types of hybrids by outcrossing. One of these hybrid strains was subjected to continuous crossbreeding, yielding the multi-hybrid strain, which inherited the genetic characteristics of Kyokai No. 6, No. 7 and No. 9. Notably, because all of the genetic modifications of the yeast cells were introduced using plasmids, these traits can be easily removed. The approach described here has the potential to markedly accelerate the crossbreeding of industrial yeast strains with desirable properties.
Keywords: Crossbreeding; Growth selection; Hybrid strain; Mating type; Sake yeast.