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1.  On the Complexity of the Saccharomyces bayanus Taxon: Hybridization and Potential Hybrid Speciation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93729.
Although the genus Saccharomyces has been thoroughly studied, some species in the genus has not yet been accurately resolved; an example is S. bayanus, a taxon that includes genetically diverse lineages of pure and hybrid strains. This diversity makes the assignation and classification of strains belonging to this species unclear and controversial. They have been subdivided by some authors into two varieties (bayanus and uvarum), which have been raised to the species level by others. In this work, we evaluate the complexity of 46 different strains included in the S. bayanus taxon by means of PCR-RFLP analysis and by sequencing of 34 gene regions and one mitochondrial gene. Using the sequence data, and based on the S. bayanus var. bayanus reference strain NBRC 1948, a hypothetical pure S. bayanus was reconstructed for these genes that showed alleles with similarity values lower than 97% with the S. bayanus var. uvarum strain CBS 7001, and of 99–100% with the non S. cerevisiae portion in S. pastorianus Weihenstephan 34/70 and with the new species S. eubayanus. Among the S. bayanus strains under study, different levels of homozygosity, hybridization and introgression were found; however, no pure S. bayanus var. bayanus strain was identified. These S. bayanus hybrids can be classified into two types: homozygous (type I) and heterozygous hybrids (type II), indicating that they have been originated by different hybridization processes. Therefore, a putative evolutionary scenario involving two different hybridization events between a S. bayanus var. uvarum and unknown European S. eubayanus-like strains can be postulated to explain the genomic diversity observed in our S. bayanus var. bayanus strains.
PMCID: PMC3976317  PMID: 24705561
2.  Enhanced Enzymatic Activity of Glycerol-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase from the Cryophilic Saccharomyces kudriavzevii 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87290.
During the evolution of the different species classified within the Saccharomyces genus, each one has adapted to live in different environments. One of the most important parameters that have influenced the evolution of Saccharomyces species is the temperature. Here we have focused on the study of the ability of certain species as Saccharomyces kudriavzevii to grow at low temperatures, in contrast to Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We observed that S. kudriavzevii strains isolated from several regions are able to synthesize higher amounts of glycerol, a molecule that has been shown to accumulate in response to freeze and cold stress. To explain this observation at the molecular level we studied the expression of glycerol biosynthetic pathway genes and we observed a higher expression of GPD1 gene in S. kudriavzevii compared to S. cerevisiae in micro-vinification conditions. We observed higher enzymatic activity of Gpd1p in S. kudriavzevii in response to osmotic and cold stress. Also, we determined that S. kudriavzevii Gpd1p enzyme presents increased catalytic properties that will contribute to increase glycerol production. Finally, we evaluated the glycerol production with S. cerevisiae, S. kudriavzevii or a recombinant Gpd1p variant in the same background and observed that the S. kudriavzevii enzyme produced increased glycerol levels at 12 or 28°C. This suggests that glycerol is increased in S. kudriavzevii mainly due to increased Vmax of the Gpd1p enzyme. All these differences indicate that S. kudriavzevii has changed the metabolism to promote the branch of the glycolytic pathway involved in glycerol production to adapt to low temperature environments and maintain the NAD+/NADH ratio in alcoholic fermentations. This knowledge is industrially relevant due to the potential use, for example, of S. cerevisiae-S. kudriavzevii hybrids in the wine industry where glycerol content is an important quality parameter.
PMCID: PMC3907487  PMID: 24498063
3.  Centennial olive trees as a reservoir of genetic diversity 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(5):797-807.
Background and Aims
Genetic characterization and phylogenetic analysis of the oldest trees could be a powerful tool both for germplasm collection and for understanding the earliest origins of clonally propagated fruit crops. The olive tree (Olea europaea L.) is a suitable model to study the origin of cultivars due to its long lifespan, resulting in the existence of both centennial and millennial trees across the Mediterranean Basin.
The genetic identity and diversity as well as the phylogenetic relationships among the oldest wild and cultivated olives of southern Spain were evaluated by analysing simple sequence repeat markers. Samples from both the canopy and the roots of each tree were analysed to distinguish which trees were self-rooted and which were grafted. The ancient olives were also put into chronological order to infer the antiquity of traditional olive cultivars.
Key Results
Only 9·6 % out of 104 a priori cultivated ancient genotypes matched current olive cultivars. The percentage of unidentified genotypes was higher among the oldest olives, which could be because they belong to ancient unknown cultivars or because of possible intra-cultivar variability. Comparing the observed patterns of genetic variation made it possible to distinguish which trees were grafted onto putative wild olives.
This study of ancient olives has been fruitful both for germplasm collection and for enlarging our knowledge about olive domestication. The findings suggest that grafting pre-existing wild olives with olive cultivars was linked to the beginnings of olive growing. Additionally, the low number of genotypes identified in current cultivars points out that the ancient olives from southern Spain constitute a priceless reservoir of genetic diversity.
PMCID: PMC3177672  PMID: 21852276
Olea europaea; wild olives; traditional cultivars; microsatellite markers; intracultivar variability; domestication; in situ conservation
4.  Reconstruction of the Evolutionary History of Saccharomyces cerevisiae x S. kudriavzevii Hybrids Based on Multilocus Sequence Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45527.
In recent years, interspecific hybridization and introgression are increasingly recognized as significant events in the evolution of Saccharomyces yeasts. These mechanisms have probably been involved in the origin of novel yeast genotypes and phenotypes, which in due course were to colonize and predominate in the new fermentative environments created by human manipulation. The particular conditions in which hybrids arose are still unknown, as well as the number of possible hybridization events that generated the whole set of natural hybrids described in the literature during recent years. In this study, we could infer at least six different hybridization events that originated a set of 26 S. cerevisiae x S. kudriavzevii hybrids isolated from both fermentative and non-fermentative environments. Different wine S. cerevisiae strains and European S. kudriavzevii strains were probably involved in the hybridization events according to gene sequence information, as well as from previous data on their genome composition and ploidy. Finally, we postulate that these hybrids may have originated after the introduction of vine growing and winemaking practices by the Romans to the present Northern vine-growing limits and spread during the expansion of improved viticulture and enology practices that occurred during the Late Middle Ages.
PMCID: PMC3458055  PMID: 23049811
5.  Comparative genomics among Saccharomyces cerevisiae × Saccharomyces kudriavzevii natural hybrid strains isolated from wine and beer reveals different origins 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:407.
Interspecific hybrids between S. cerevisiae × S. kudriavzevii have frequently been detected in wine and beer fermentations. Significant physiological differences among parental and hybrid strains under different stress conditions have been evidenced. In this study, we used comparative genome hybridization analysis to evaluate the genome composition of different S. cerevisiae × S. kudriavzevii natural hybrids isolated from wine and beer fermentations to infer their evolutionary origins and to figure out the potential role of common S. kudriavzevii gene fraction present in these hybrids.
Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and ploidy analyses carried out in this study confirmed the presence of individual and differential chromosomal composition patterns for most S. cerevisiae × S. kudriavzevii hybrids from beer and wine. All hybrids share a common set of depleted S. cerevisiae genes, which also are depleted or absent in the wine strains studied so far, and the presence a common set of S. kudriavzevii genes, which may be associated with their capability to grow at low temperatures. Finally, a maximum parsimony analysis of chromosomal rearrangement events, occurred in the hybrid genomes, indicated the presence of two main groups of wine hybrids and different divergent lineages of brewing strains.
Our data suggest that wine and beer S. cerevisiae × S. kudriavzevii hybrids have been originated by different rare-mating events involving a diploid wine S. cerevisiae and a haploid or diploid European S. kudriavzevii strains. Hybrids maintain several S. kudriavzevii genes involved in cold adaptation as well as those related to S. kudriavzevii mitochondrial functions.
PMCID: PMC3468397  PMID: 22906207
6.  Chimeric Genomes of Natural Hybrids of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces kudriavzevii▿ †  
Recently, a new type of hybrid resulting from the hybridization between Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces kudriavzevii was described. These strains exhibit physiological properties of potential biotechnological interest. A preliminary characterization of these hybrids showed a trend to reduce the S. kudriavzevii fraction of the hybrid genome. We characterized the genomic constitution of several wine S. cerevisiae × S. kudriavzevii strains by using a combined approach based on the restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of gene regions, comparative genome hybridizations with S. cerevisiae DNA arrays, ploidy analysis, and gene dose determination by quantitative real-time PCR. The high similarity in the genome structures of the S. cerevisiae × S. kudriavzevii hybrids under study indicates that they originated from a single hybridization event. After hybridization, the hybrid genome underwent extensive chromosomal rearrangements, including chromosome losses and the generation of chimeric chromosomes by the nonreciprocal recombination between homeologous chromosomes. These nonreciprocal recombinations between homeologous chromosomes occurred in highly conserved regions, such as Ty long terminal repeats (LTRs), rRNA regions, and conserved protein-coding genes. This study supports the hypothesis that chimeric chromosomes may have been generated by a mechanism similar to the recombination-mediated chromosome loss acting during meiosis in Saccharomyces hybrids. As a result of the selective processes acting during fermentation, hybrid genomes maintained the S. cerevisiae genome but reduced the S. kudriavzevii fraction.
PMCID: PMC2675219  PMID: 19251887
7.  Molecular Characterization of New Natural Hybrids of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. kudriavzevii in Brewing▿ †  
We analyzed 24 beer strains from different origins by using PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of different gene regions, and six new Saccharomyces cerevisiae × Saccharomyces kudriavzevii hybrid strains were found. This is the first time that the presence in brewing of this new type of hybrid has been demonstrated. From the comparative molecular analysis of these natural hybrids with respect to those described in wines, it can be concluded that these originated from at least two hybridization events and that some brewing hybrids share a common origin with wine hybrids. Finally, a reduction of the S. kudriavzevii fraction of the hybrid genomes was observed, but this reduction was found to vary among hybrids regardless of the source of isolation. The fact that 25% of the strains analyzed were discovered to be S. cerevisiae × S. kudriavzevii hybrids suggests that an important fraction of brewing strains classified as S. cerevisiae may correspond to hybrids, contributing to the complexity of Saccharomyces diversity in brewing environments. The present study raises new questions about the prevalence of these new hybrids in brewing as well as their contribution to the properties of the final product.
PMCID: PMC2293171  PMID: 18296532
8.  Mitotic Recombination and Genetic Changes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae during Wine Fermentation 
Natural strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae are prototrophic homothallic yeasts that sporulate poorly, are often heterozygous, and may be aneuploid. This genomic constitution may confer selective advantages in some environments. Different mechanisms of recombination, such as meiosis or mitotic rearrangement of chromosomes, have been proposed for wine strains. We studied the stability of the URA3 locus of a URA3/ura3 wine yeast in consecutive grape must fermentations. ura3/ura3 homozygotes were detected at a rate of 1 × 10−5 to 3 × 10−5 per generation, and mitotic rearrangements for chromosomes VIII and XII appeared after 30 mitotic divisions. We used the karyotype as a meiotic marker and determined that sporulation was not involved in this process. Thus, we propose a hypothesis for the genome changes in wine yeasts during vinification. This putative mechanism involves mitotic recombination between homologous sequences and does not necessarily imply meiosis.
PMCID: PMC101454  PMID: 10788381
9.  Molecular Monitoring of Wine Fermentations Conducted by Active Dry Yeast Strains 
A simple and rapid method of yeast strain characterization based on mitochondrial DNA restriction analysis was applied to the control of wine fermentations conducted by active dry yeast strains. This molecular approach allows us to understand several important aspects of this process, such as the role of the active dry yeast strain and that of the natural Saccharomyces cerevisiae flora during vinification. In this paper, we demonstrate that the inoculated strain is really responsible for the fermentation but does not suppress significant development of natural strains during the first stages. During this early period, natural strains could have important effects on wine flavor.
PMCID: PMC183031  PMID: 16348768

Results 1-9 (9)