An academic paper which provides a starting hypothesis in attempting to unravel the ecology of the most useful yeast in human history has been selected as the Editor’s Choice article in a research journal.

The paper ‘Saccharomyces cerevisiae: a nomadic yeast with no niche?’ by Dr Matthew Goddard, from the School of Life Sciences, is featured in the May issues of FEMS (Federation of European Microbiological Societies) Yeast Research.

Each issue selects a single article that describes a significant advance in the field.

Dr Goddard, whose focus is the biology of microbes, particularly yeast, suggests that Saccharomyces cerevisiae – which is instrumental to winemaking, baking and brewing – has not necessarily adapted to a specific ecological niche.

He said: “The artificial collection, concentration and fermentation of large volumes of fruit for alcohol production produce an environment in which S. cerevisiae thrives, and therefore it is assumed that fruit is the ecological niche that S. cerevisiae inhabits and has adapted to. We find very little direct evidence that S. cerevisiae is adapted to fruit, or indeed to any other specific niche.

We propose instead a neutral nomad model for S. cerevisiae, which we believe should be used as the starting hypothesis in attempting to unravel the ecology of this important microbe.”

The online version of the article can be found here