Systems biology in yeast of biotechnological interest
Industrial yeasts responsible for biotechnological processes are highly specialized organisms that have evolved under restrictive conditions in different environments manipulated by man. Our group is interested in understanding the mechanisms involved in adaptation that have shaped the yeast genome conferring properties of biotechnological interest. Different Omic as well as evolutionary analysis are used to understand the mechanisms of adaptation of yeasts of industrial interest to environmental and nutritional changes (temperature, availability of nitrogen and iron, etc.). This research is applicable to the selection and breeding of new strains of yeasts of interest in industrial fermentations (wine, beer, cider, etc.) and to the development of dietary supplements (iron-enriched yeast) by different techniques such as adaptive evolution, hybridization, or the development of GMOs.
Our working group is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the adaptation processes that have shaped the yeast genome conferring peculiar properties of biotechnological interest, whose objectives are:
- Regulatory and metabolic studies of gene expression related to the molecular mechanisms of stress response in wine yeasts by omic analysis techniques and modeling (Systems Biology).
- The role of interspecific hybridization in generating yeasts better adapted to fermentation conditions.
- The use of global analysis techniques (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.) to understand the interaction of parental genomes present in the hybrids, which give them new properties of biotechnological interest.
- The study of interactions between yeasts during industrial fermentations using global analysis techniques.
- The study of genetic basis (QTLs) responsible for the phenotypic characteristics of yeasts of industrial interest.
- The characterization of the oenological properties characterization of strains involved in wine fermentations using predictive microbiology methods and systems biology.
- The characterization of the mechanisms of response to iron deficiency by utilizing the yeast S. cerevisiae as a model eukaryotic organism.
- Molecular systematics and evolution of yeasts of biotechnological interest
- The acquisition of new gene functions of adaptive value by genomic and gene duplication or horizontal transfer.
- The study of food yeasts as potential emerging pathogens: molecular basis of pathogenicity, comparative genomics and proteomics of pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains.
The results of this research are applicable to the following topics of interest to the industry:
- Application of molecular techniques for the identification and characterization of yeast in fermentation processes.
- Development of starter cultures for their use in alcoholic fermentations.
- Breeding yeasts by non-GMO techniques such as directed evolution, intra and inter-specific hybridization as well as genetic engineering. These techniques are being applied for the improvement of industrial yeasts such as the increase of the glycerol production, the decrease of ethanol yield, tolerance to low temperatures, growth in nitrogen-limiting conditions, the production of fermentation aromas and the release of varietal scents.
- The analysis of iron homeostasis in S. cerevisiae for obtaining yeasts with increased levels of iron that can be used as a nutritional supplement.