221. Harnessing flavor diversity in yeast strains from the Allegheny Mountains

Matthew Winans (1); (1) West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, U.S.A.

Yeast, Fermentation, and Microbiology
Poster

Improvement of yeast for brewing and winemaking is a continuous process of fulfilling brewing and winemaking needs. Novel yeasts are left undiscovered in the natural environment around us. Twelve environmental samples yielded seven novel strains of yeast, including Sachromyces cerevisiae. The samples were collected from Spruce Knob, WV, and included wood chips made by the North American beaver Castor canadensis, a paper nest from wasps belonging to the order Hymenoptera, and moss bed soils, among others. Multiple methods were utilized to identify the yeast species captured. An initial screening was performed using different orthologous and essential housekeeping genes belonging to the Saccharomyces clade to detect each species through colony polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Following the initial screening, PCR amplification of the internal transcribes spacers (ITS) domain were sequenced by Sanger sequencing and compared for identification. The aim of this study is to collect, isolate, and characterize natural yeast isolates from unique mixed deciduous and coniferous forests in and around West Virginia for use in commercial and private fermentations. The long-term goal of the research is to provide ample biodiversity and characterization of a historically under-sampled region of the United States in order to harness aroma and flavor diversity. The genetic diversity of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is greater than the entire human species. During fermentation, many positively valued aroma compounds are produced by yeasts, such as chemical families of aldehydes, ketones, alcohol, acids, and esters. Although rare, natural hybrids of yeast do exist. It has been shown that hybrids have enhanced phenotypes, often surpassing parent strains. For example, hybrid vigor could improve the ability to handle stress from alcohol (late-stage fermentation) or osmotic pressure (early-stage fermentation) when compared to both parents’ abilities. Brewing, winemaking, biofuel, and pharmacological interests lie in the productivity capabilities of these microorganisms. The yeast strains captured here show diversity and have the possibility of being future targets for selective breeding and hybridization in a laboratory environment with the ultimate goal of enhancing their phenotypes for commercial application.

Matthew J. Winans received his B.S. degree in biology from Fairmont State University and currently is a Ph.D. student at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. His laboratory in the Life Science Building performs fermentation, biochemical, and genetic studies on yeast cultures. He is a member of the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC) and locally is a leader of the Morgantown Area Society of Homebrewers (MASH). Matt is constantly seeking new opportunities and is an entrepreneur at heart. His biology career truly began when he studied marine protected areas (MPAs) while living on the island of South Caicos, TCI, with Boston University’s School for Field Studies. After graduation, he started as an educator for SeaWorld before joining the animal training team. Through networking, Matt gained secondary employment in the Marine Animal Department of Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center. In order to diversify his background and establish himself financially, he secured a fast-paced position as the marketing executive in a medium (>500 employees) sized business service company. He continually led his team in sales and operations, securing several high-impact contracts from a growing list of clients. One of his trips found him speaking with his current primary investigator, Dr. Jennifer Gallagher. Matt is interested in merging his talents from business and academics into a rewarding career in the brewing industry.