The budding yeast, known by its scientific name as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, features as the most exploited microorganism in the field of biotechnology. In particular, the present microorganism plays a greater role in brewing beer. Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) further features as a widely researched eukaryotic organism. As such, the microorganism has proven extremely beneficial in developing a proper understanding in several studies focusing on other eukaryotic organisms. Its preference as the organism of choice in understanding eukaryotes rests on its unicellular nature. This offers a simple mechanism for understanding every aspect of the biological functions of all eukaryotes. The prominent industrial uses of the present microorganism include the production of wine, beer, food, and biofuel. A critical examination of a growing body of research reviews its S. cerevisiae’s biology, novel pharmaceutical products, and environmental applications.
Biology of Saccharomyces cerevisiae
S. cerevisiae occurs as a unicellular fungus that possesses nuclear DNA measuring approximately 12068 kilobases assembled in 16 chromosomes. The present organism’s genome sequence revealed the presence of 6000 genes in the DNA. Of these, 5570 genes are perceived as genes with the capacity to encode protein (Parapouli et al. 2). Further bioinformatics examination later pinpointed the presence of several foreign genes within its genomic DNA, thereby confirming the presence of lateral gene transference in the organism. The initial realization of foreign genes in its genome surprised many as it has a huge cell wall, cellular membrane, and other membrane-bound organelles (Parapouli et al. 3). It is perceived that these foreign genes might have entered its genome laterally and comprise either eukaryotic or prokaryotic genes. For instance, the gene FSY1 is one of the foreign eukaryotic genes found within its genome. The foreign gene is responsible for encoding a fructose transporter, with its origins perceptively linked to the lineage of this organism’s close relative. The said gene plays a core role in reinforcing the host strain EC 1118 with the capacity to use fructose in low hexose conditions that most probably arise towards the end of the fermentation process.
All strains of S. cerevisiae harbor extrachromosomal mitochondrion DNA molecules (mtDNA) that differ in terms of their sizes. The largest of these molecules measures 85780 bps. Besides, the organism contains an extrachromosomal DNA within its nucleus known as 2µm circle and measures 6318 bps and a copy number of 60 copies per cell (Parapouli et al.2). It lacks any phenotypic significance to its host. However, 2µm circle slows down the growth rate of its host. Double and single-stranded retroviruses and RNA molecules also tend to occur as extrachromosomal genetic elements in the spectrum of S. cerevisiae strains (Parapouli et al. 3). S. cerevisiae plays a significant role in several industrial applications. Its usefulness derives from a particular cycle in its lifestyle referred to as make-accumulate-consume. Ideally, this organism rarely relies on its respiratory machinery during aerobic respiration to promote the metabolism of saccharides to enhance its biomass growth. Instead, it produces ethanol and two compounds of carbon through pyruvate. S. cerevisiae produces and accumulates ethanol and uses this to drive out competition from other species of microbes (Parapouli et al. 3). Following such competition leverage in its ecological niche, the present microbe consumers produced ethanol to proliferate its biomass growth. Its ability to produce and accumulate alcohol is especially harnessed in the industrial production of foods and beverages, especially wine.
Novel pharmaceutical products from Saccharomyces cerevisiae
S. cerevisiae features as the most common yeast used in the production of a biopharmaceutical referred to as protein recombinant. Besides, the current microbe is widely applied in the industrial production of different foods and beverages, drawing on its harmless status. Exhibiting both eukaryotic and prokaryotic features, S. cerevisiae is easily cultured and grows fast under the right culture conditions (Huang et al. 169). Additionally, the present microbe responds effectively to industrial processing and further exhibits a remarkable ability to resist wide-ranging environmental stressors, including secondary and chemical metabolites. S. cerevisiae harbors similar organelles found in most eukaryotes, including Golgi apparatus, vacuoles, microbodies, endoplasmic reticulum, vesicles, and mitochondria (Huang et al. 169). This makes it capable of folding proteins found in eukaryotes. Common biopharmaceuticals produce by S. cerevisiae include, among others, Victoza®, Silgard®, Fendrix®, and Protaphane® (Huang et al. 170). All of these biopharmaceuticals made huge profits from their sales. This indicates the proliferated rise in the prominence of using microbes, such as S. cerevisiae, in the production of pharmaceuticals.
S. cerevisiae equally has wider uses in the environment. In particular, S. cerevisiae is used in water treatment. Industries release countless toxic metals in their discharge, which eventually pollute surface runoff and groundwater sources (Sathvika et al. 2). Without treatment, these metals could jeopardize the health of living things. S. cerevisiae is used to effectively dispel chromium (VI) from water (Massoud et al. 57). This is referred to as bioremediation and aids in removing metals in foods and water.
Other manufacturing uses of Saccharomyces cerevisiae
S. cerevisiae is similarly used in baking industries to manufacture bread and in breweries to manufacture beer (Liti). Its capacity to produce and accumulate alcohol during fermentation has been tapped by said industries to maximize the production of said products for commercial purposes.
In sum, analysis of a growing body of research offers insights into S. cerevisiae’s biology, pharmaceutical, environmental, and manufacturing applications. The present microorganism plays a significant role in biotechnology as a tool for genetic manipulation and as an agent for fermentation in brewing beer. The usefulness of the present organism in the several diverse biotechnological applications stems from the interplay of its widespread biological features. This ranges from its capacity to catalyze the process of fermentation leading to the production of carbon dioxide and ethanol and its ability to cope and survive harsh environmental stressors, including low pH and extreme osmolarity conditions. It is used as a bioremediation agent to remove toxic metals from water and food.
Huang, Mingtao, Jichen Bao, and Jens Nielsen. “Biopharmaceutical protein production bySaccharomyces cerevisiae: current state and future prospects.” Pharmaceutical Bioprocessing 2.2 (2014): 167-182.
Liti, Gianni. “The Natural History Of Model Organisms: The Fascinating And Secret Wild Life Of The Budding Yeast S. Cerevisiae”. Life, vol 4, no. e05835, 2015. Life Sciences Publications, Ltd, doi:10.7554/elife.05835.001.
Massoud, Ramona, et al. “Bioremediation of heavy metals in food industry: Application of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” Electronic Journal of Biotechnology 37 (2019): 56-60.
Paragould, Maria et al. “Saccharomyces Cerevisiae and Its Industrial Applications”. AIMS Microbiology, vol 6, no. 1, 2020, pp. 1-32. American Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), doi:10.3934/microbiol.2020001
Sathvika, T., et al. “Potential application of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Rhizobium immobilized in multi walled carbon nanotubes to adsorb hexavalent chromium.” Scientific Reports 8.1 (2018): 1-13.