Project No. 2432
PRIORITY STANDARD PROJECT
Prof Vladimir Jiranek – University of Southampton
Dr Helen Cockerton- University of Kent
Dr Mark Chapman – University of Southampton
Humans are reliant on yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), a model species performing diverse functions that underpin the food and beverage industry, vaccine production, and bioenergy.
Humans are reliant on yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), a model species performing diverse functions that underpin the food and beverage industry, vaccine production, and bioenergy. As consumer trends evolve and climate change affects yeast-based processes and the availability of substrates (e.g., for brewing and biofuels), continued improvement of yeast will be key to keep up with demand.
Hops used for beer production are expensive and, in the UK almost all are imported, generating a carbon footprint. Achieving the desired yields and sensory attributes from hops in the UK has proven a challenge, with less intense or desirable aromas/flavours being typical. This poses an opportunity; developing yeast that dramatically contribute to the ‘hops aroma/flavour’ of beer by producing impact compounds or biotransforming precursors in hops. In this way, brewers can use less imported hops or deliver to consumers the sensory profiles they want from UK-grown hops.
The student will approach this project from a variety of angles and with a range of partners. The student will utilise the standard yeast strains used by the partner Adnams Brewery and carry out targeted mutagenesis, long-term selection experiments, and yeast breeding, to identify and develop strains with an increased ability to produce aroma/flavour compounds. The student will also assay the ability of a range of commercial and wild yeasts to tailor the aroma/flavour profile of hop varieties that are currently produced in the UK. The student will therefore gain significant lab experience including working with yeast and using GC-MS and sensory panels to quantify aroma/flavour compounds and their impact.
The project will also include genome sequencing of the evolved strains to determine the genetic basis of novel aroma/flavour compound metabolism.
The project has relevance to UK industry, agri-food, and sustainability and we expect the student to be willing to learn new skills and work with several stakeholders.