Distinct Domestication Trajectories in Top-Fermenting Beer Yeasts and Wine Yeasts

Margarida Gonçalves, Ana Pontes, Pedro Almeida, Raquel Barbosa, Marta Serra, Diego Libkind, Mathias Hutzler, Paula Gonçalves, José Paulo Sampaio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages and is produced by the fermentation of sugars derived from starches present in cereal grains. Contrary to lager beers, made by bottom-fermenting strains of Saccharomyces pastorianus, a hybrid yeast, ale beers are closer to the ancient beer type and are fermented by S. cerevisiae, a top-fermenting yeast. Here, we use population genomics to investigate (1) the closest relatives of top-fermenting beer yeasts; (2) whether top-fermenting yeasts represent an independent domestication event separate from those already described; (3) whether single or multiple beer yeast domestication events can be inferred; and (4) whether top-fermenting yeasts represent non-recombinant or recombinant lineages. Our results revealed that top-fermenting beer yeasts are polyphyletic, with a main clade composed of at least three subgroups, dominantly represented by the German, British, and wheat beer strains. Other beer strains were phylogenetically close to sake, wine, or bread yeasts. We detected genetic signatures of beer yeast domestication by investigating genes previously linked to brewing and using genome-wide scans. We propose that the emergence of the main clade of beer yeasts is related with a domestication event distinct from the previously known cases of wine and sake yeast domestication. The nucleotide diversity of the main beer clade more than doubled that of wine yeasts, which might be a consequence of fundamental differences in the modes of beer and wine yeast domestication. The higher diversity of beer strains could be due to the more intense and different selection regimes associated to brewing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2750-2761
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2016


  • beer
  • comparative genomics
  • domestication signatures
  • microbe domestication
  • phenolic off flavor (POF)
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • top-fermenting ale beer
  • wheat beer
  • yeast population genomics


Dive into the research topics of 'Distinct Domestication Trajectories in Top-Fermenting Beer Yeasts and Wine Yeasts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this