Population genomics of wine yeast and other microfungi

Humans have used the wine yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, for thousands of years to make wine, sake, beer, bread, coffee and chocolate. We are starting to understand how the S. cerevisiae strains used by humans relate to those that live wild on the bark of ancient trees in forests, and thus to better understand microbial domestication. In a similar way, we can compare disease-causing microfungi to their closest wild relatives to better understand the sources of human infections. By coupling a population genomic approach with the wealth of information about wine yeast at the molecular level we can better understand the evolution of this model eukaryotic genome. We can also use population genomic analyses to better understand microbial life-history, migration and genetic diversity.


Almeida, P., Barbosa, R. Zalar, P., Yumi, I., Kiminori, S., Turchetti, B., Legras, J-L., Serra, M., Dequin, S., Couloux, A., Guy, J., Bensasson, D., Gonçalvez, P., Sampaio, J.P. 2015 ” A population genomics insight into the Mediterranean origins of wine yeast domestication”. Molecular Ecology 24(21) 5412- 5427

Bensasson, D. 2011 “Evidence for a high mutation rate at rapidly evolving yeast centromeres”. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 11 211.

Liti, G., Carter D.M., Moses A.M., Warringer J., Parts L, James S.A., Davey R.P., Roberts I.N., Burt A., Koufopanou V., Tsai I.J., Bergman C.M., Bensasson D. et al. 2009 “Population genomics of domestic and wild yeasts”. Nature. 458 337-341.

Tsai, I.J., Bensasson D, Burt, A., Koufopanou V. 2008 “Population genomics of the wild yeast Saccharomyces paradoxus: Quantifying the life cycle“. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 105(12) 4957-4962.

Bensasson, D., Zarowiecki, M.Z., Burt A. and Koufopanou V. 2008 “Rapid centromere evolution in budding yeast in the absence of meiotic drive”. Genetics. 178(4) 2161-2167.


Douda Bensasson
Pedro Almeida (past PhD student)
Viranga Tilakaratna (past technician)

Related code on github