Revisiting the taxonomic synonyms and populations of saccharomyces cerevisiae—phylogeny, phenotypes, ecology and domestication

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Saccharomyces cerevisiae—the most emblematic and industrially relevant yeast—has a long list of taxonomical synonyms. Formerly considered as distinct species, some of the synonyms represent variants with important industrial implications, like Saccharomyces boulardii or Saccharomyces diastaticus, but with an unclear status, especially among the fermentation industry, the biotechnology community and biologists not informed on taxonomic matters. Here, we use genomics to investigate a group of 45 reference strains (type strains) of former Saccharomyces species that are currently regarded as conspecific with S. cerevisiae. We show that these variants are distributed across the phylogenetic spectrum of domesticated lineages of S. cerevisiae, with emphasis on the most relevant technological groups, but absent in wild lineages. We analyzed the phylogeny of a representative and well-balanced dataset of S. cerevisiae genomes that deepened our current ecological and biogeographic assessment of wild populations and allowed the distinction, among wild populations, of those associated with low-or high-sugar natural environments. Some wild lineages from China were merged with wild lineages from other regions in Asia and in the New World, thus giving more resolution to the current model of expansion from Asia to the rest of the world. We reassessed several key domestication markers among the different domesticated populations. In some cases, we could trace their origin to wild reservoirs, while in other cases gene inactivation associated with domestication was also found in wild populations, thus suggesting that natural adaptation to sugar-rich environments predated domestication.

Original languageEnglish
Article number903
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020


  • MEL1
  • Population genomics
  • Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces diastaticus
  • STA1
  • Yeast domestication


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