Saccharomyces yeast hybrids on the rise

Yeast. 2022 Jan;39(1-2):40-54. doi: 10.1002/yea.3684. Epub 2021 Dec 29.


Saccharomyces hybrid yeasts are receiving increasing attention as a powerful model system to understand adaptation to environmental stress and speciation mechanisms, using experimental evolution and omics techniques. We compiled all genomic resources available from public repositories of the eight recognized Saccharomyces species and their interspecific hybrids. We present the newest numbers on genomes sequenced, assemblies, annotations, and sequencing runs, and an updated species phylogeny using orthogroup inference. While genomic resources are highly skewed towards Saccharomyces cerevisiae, there is a noticeable movement to use wild, recently discovered yeast species in recent years. To illustrate the degree and potential causes of reproductive isolation, we reanalyzed published data on hybrid spore viabilities across the entire genus and tested for the role of genetic, geographic, and ecological divergence within and between species (28 cross types and 371 independent crosses). Hybrid viability generally decreased with parental genetic distance likely due to antirecombination and negative epistasis, but notable exceptions emphasize the importance of strain-specific structural variation and ploidy differences. Surprisingly, the viability of crosses within species varied widely, from near reproductive isolation to near-perfect viability. Geographic and ecological origins of the parents predicted cross viability to an extent, but with certain caveats. Finally, we highlight publication trends in the field and point out areas of special interest, where hybrid yeasts are particularly promising for innovation through research and development, and experimental evolution and fermentation.

Keywords: experimental evolution; fermentation; genomics; hybridization; reproductive isolation; spore viability; yeast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Fermentation
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces* / genetics