About this Research Topic
Since 1996, the year of the release of the first Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome sequence, a wealth of genomic data has been made available for numerous S. cerevisiae strains and non-conventional yeast species isolates of diverse origins. A number of annotated genomes of interspecific hybrids are now also available. This genomic information, together with the exploitation of functional genomics and genome engineering tools is providing a holistic assessment of the complex cellular responses to environmental challenges, elucidating the genomic processes underlying evolution, speciation, hybridization, and domestication, and uncovering crucial aspects of yeasts´ physiological genomics to guide their biotechnological exploitation.
Despite the millennial use of S. cerevisiae in the production of food and beverages and all the knowledge gathered on this yeast species, the truth is that many nonconventional yeast species have highly desirable traits that S. cerevisiae do not have. These include tolerance to different stresses (e,g. Zygosaccharomyces bailii acetic acid tolerance, Z. rouxii osmotolerance, K. marxianus and Ogataea (Hansenula) polymorpha thermotolerance) the capacity of assimilation of diverse carbon sources (e.g. Scheffersomyces (Pichia) stipitis with high native capacity to metabolyze xylose and potential for the valorization of agroforest residues), high protein secretion, fermentation efficiency and production of desirable flavors, capacity to favor respiration over fermentation, high lipid biosynthesis and accumulation, efficient production of chemicals other than ethanol. Several non—Saccharomyces species have already been developed as eukaryotic hosts, cell factories or are highly relevant in the food industry as food spoilers or for the production of desirable flavors. Therefore, nonconventional yeasts are now attracting increasing attention and their diversity and complexity is being tackled in basic research and for biotechnological applications.
Although genetic and metabolic engineering of non-conventional yeasts have been so far limited, the recent interest in their exploitation is very high and a number of tools, in particular, cloning vectors, promoters, terminators and efficient genome editing tools, have been developed to allow or facilitate their genetic engineering. Functional and Comparative Genomics research on nonconventional yeasts is enlightening the evolution of genome functions and metabolic and ecological diversity, relating their physiology to genomic features and opening the door to the application of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology to yeasts of biotechnological potential. The situation is thus changing rapidly and important studies on the functional and comparative genomics of non-Saccharomyces yeasts are appearing in the scientific literature, along with their use in industrial and food biotechnology, in particular for winemaking. We are entering the era of the non-conventional yeasts, increasing the exploitation of yeast biodiversity and metabolic capabilities in science and industry.
This Research Topic is focusing on the recent developments on the Functional and Comparative Genomics of conventional and non-conventional yeasts and on the exploitation of this knowledge in Industrial and Food Biotechnology, and welcomes mini review, review, perspective, and original research papers in those areas:
Keywords: Saccharomyces, Non-conventional yeasts, Genetics and Genomics, Functional and Comparative Genomics, Industrial and Food Biotechnology
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