Wine and beer makers know Brettanomyces custersii as the invasive yeast that contaminates the fermentation process, ruining entire batches of the alcohol and leaving a distinctive odor of taint. Scientists know the yeast by another name, Dekkera bruxellensis, and are interested in sequencing the genome because the biofuel production process, like making wine or beer, involves fermenting sugars from organic matter. Dekkera’s genome could be useful from a bioenergy research and development perspective because it can work with both starch based feedstocks and woody plant or lignocellulosic feedstocks.
Dekkera is the most common wild yeast found in fuel ethanol fermentations and blamed for the loss in ethanol yields. The yeast has a high tolerance for alcohol and simply waits for brewer’s yeast to eliminate other microbes in the process before bumping the latter yeast off, spoiling the brew and reducing the production yield. Sequencing the D. bruxellensis genome could give researchers insight into controlling it. Scientists also want to compare the genomes of D. bruxellensis and brewer’s yeast to better understand their metabolic profiles. The sequence information could give biofuel producers insight into how to develop yeasts with enhanced abilities to handle lignocellulose fermentations, which could in turn lower the costs associated with the biofuel production process.
Principal Investigators: Trevor Phister, North Carolina State University
Program: CSP 2010