A collaborative study points out that there can be greater genetic differences between individuals within a particular species of yeast than there are between humans and chimpanzees.
Professor Anders Blomberg, of the University of Gothenburg, has revealed that his team have succeeded in sequencing the DNA and characterizing the genome properties of 70 different individual organisms from two different species of yeast - the common brewer's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and its evolutionary cousin Saccharomyces paradoxus.
The study carried out in collaboration with researchers from the Sanger Institute in Cambridge and the University of Nottingham, presents several interesting conclusions, e.g. that human alcohol consumption has altered yeast DNA.
"As humans transported wine and beer yeasts around the world, different yeasts have mated and recombined, so that the strains of today carry gene variants from various parts of the world. This mosaic pattern is not at all visible in our studies of another yeast that has not been exploited by humans," Nature magazine quoted Blomberg as saying.
The researchers say that the DNA of individual yeast organisms can vary by up to 4 per cent, compared to the 1 per cent difference between the DNA of humans and chimpanzees.
Another interesting observation made by them is that that individual organisms from the same species can have extra genetic material, most of which occur at the periphery of the chromosome, which lends support to the theory that these areas are very important in evolution.