A polyploid admixed origin of beer yeasts derived from European and Asian wine populations

by Justin C. Fay, Ping Liu, Giang T. Ong, Maitreya J. Dunham, Gareth A. Cromie, Eric W. Jeffery, Catherine L. Ludlow, Aimée M. Dudley

Strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae used to make beer, bread, and wine are genetically and phenotypically distinct from wild populations associated with trees. The origins of these domesticated populations are not always clear; human-associated migration and admixture with wild populations have had a strong impact on S. cerevisiae population structure. We examined the population genetic history of beer strains and found that ale strains and the S. cerevisiae portion of allotetraploid lager strains were derived from admixture between populations closely related to European grape wine strains and Asian rice wine strains. Similar to both lager and baking strains, ale strains are polyploid, providing them with a passive means of remaining isolated from other populations and providing us with a living relic of their ancestral hybridization. To reconstruct their polyploid origin, we phased the genomes of two ale strains and found ale haplotypes to both be recombinants between European and Asian alleles and to also contain novel alleles derived from extinct or as yet uncharacterized populations. We conclude that modern beer strains are the product of a historical melting pot of fermentation technology.

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