University of Illinois researchers have developed a "jailbreaking" yeast that has the potential to boost health benefits of wine and reduce the toxic byproducts that cause your after headache.
Researchers have developed a "genome knife" that cuts across multiple copies of a target gene in the genome very precisely, until all copies are cut.
Associate professor Yong-Su Jin, said that fermented foods like beer, wine and bread are made with polyploid strains of yeast, which meant they contain multiple copies of genes in the genome. Until now, it's been very difficult to do genetic engineering in polyploid strains because by altering a gene in one copy of the genome, an unaltered copy would correct the one that had been changed.
Jin along with his team used this enzyme, RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease, to do precise metabolic engineering of polyploid Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains that have been widely used in the wine, beer and fermentation industries.
He said that with engineered yeast, it was possible to increase the amount of resveratrol in a variety of wine by 10 times or more. But they could also add metabolic pathways to introduce bioactive compounds from other foods, such as ginseng, into the wine yeast.
Another benefit was that winemakers could clone the enzyme to enhance malolactic fermentation, a secondary fermentation process that makes wine smooth. Improper malolactic fermentation generates the toxic byproducts that may cause hangover symptoms, he said.
The new technology also makes genetically modified organisms less objectionable, he said.
"In the past, scientists have had to use antibiotic markers to indicate the spot of genetic alteration in an organism, and many persons objected to their use in foods because of the danger of developing antibiotic resistance. With the genome knife, we can cut the genome very precisely and efficiently so we don't have to use antibiotic markers to confirm a genetic event."