Mertens S, Steensels J, Saels V, De Rouck G, Aerts G, Verstrepen KJ.

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015 Dec;81(23):8202-14. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02464-15. Epub 2015 Sep 25.

Lager beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the world. Its production process is marked by a fermentation conducted at low (8 to 15°C) temperatures and by the use of Saccharomyces pastorianus, an interspecific hybrid between Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the cold-tolerant Saccharomyces eubayanus. Recent whole-genome-sequencing efforts revealed that the currently available lager yeasts belong to one of only two archetypes, “Saaz” and “Frohberg.” This limited genetic variation likely reflects that all lager yeasts descend from only two separate interspecific hybridization events, which may also explain the relatively limited aromatic diversity between the available lager beer yeasts compared to, for example, wine and ale beer yeasts. In this study, 31 novel interspecific yeast hybrids were developed, resulting from large-scale robot-assisted selection and breeding between carefully selected strains of S. cerevisiae (six strains) and S. eubayanus (two strains). Interestingly, many of the resulting hybrids showed a broader temperature tolerance than their parental strains and reference S. pastorianus yeasts. Moreover, they combined a high fermentation capacity with a desirable aroma profile in laboratory-scale lager beer fermentations, thereby successfully enriching the currently available lager yeast biodiversity. Pilot-scale trials further confirmed the industrial potential of these hybrids and identified one strain, hybrid H29, which combines a fast fermentation, high attenuation, and the production of a complex, desirable fruity aroma.