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Yeast of Cracow
August 29, 2015   
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Polish scientists have obtained a variety of yeast that is resistant to drastic changes in temperature. While that may interest bakers and housewives, researchers from the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow say this yeast is excellent for the production of probiotics, or live bacteria and yeast-based products that are believed to provide health benefits.

The yeast can be defrosted multiple times and stored in both cool and warm places for a long time.The new variety can also be used to make cosmetics and so-called baker’s yeast, or strains of yeast commonly used as a leavening agent in bread and bakery products.

Yeast has been used for centuries to make bread, wine and beer due to its alcohol fermentation and carbon dioxide production capabilities. “Yeast is also a key model organism used in biological research, including genetic, genomic, biomedical and cell cycle studies,” says Dominika Włoch-Salamon, Ph.D., from the Evolutionary Genetics research group at the Jagiellonian University’s Institute of Environmental Sciences.

Włoch-Salamon’s team conducted research financed by Poland’s National Science Center that produced a way to obtain more durable yeast cells. Such cells can be used to produce baker’s yeast, both fresh and dry, as well as probiotics and cosmetics, Włoch-Salamon says.

The scientists worked on natural strains of Saccharomyces yeast. These are derived from substrates such as soil, bark, leaves, flowers, fruit, beer, wine and sourdough, as well as human organs and skin. Usually these strains of yeast form aggregates or clusters of many closely interlinked cells.

Particularly valuable are quiescent cells, which have thick walls and are resistant to various adverse factors, says Włoch-Salamon.

Quiescent cells do better than other yeast cells, surviving long-term adverse conditions such as repeated defrosting or being refrigerated at 4 degrees Celsius for a long time, as well as surviving 28 degrees Celsius for a long time.

Previously quiescent cells were mainly observed in strains of laboratory yeast that did not produce many clusters. Research conducted at the Jagiellonian University’s Institute of Environmental Sciences demonstrated that quiescent yeast cells can also be found in real-life environments, and not only in a laboratory.

However, until now there was a problem separating a homogeneous fraction of quiescent cells from strains making up clusters. The Cracow scientists have developed a method that makes it possible to reduce their presence in yeast populations. This enabled them to more easily isolate quiescent cells. They did so through so-called homologous transformation, or genetic modification of a gene responsible for the aggregation of yeast cells.

So far seven strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast from different backgrounds, such as fruit, soil and the human body, have been modified. The scientists have submitted their method to the Polish Patent Office and also applied for international patent protection under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Olga Majewska
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