S. cerevisiaea

Survival through cooperation

– May 15, 2020

Evolution is the process of adaptation and development over multiple generations. Because microbes produce new generations much faster than we do, even in minutes, we can actually observe these adaptations in microbes. It is known that microbes grow slower and even die when they have to live at higher temperatures then they are used to. Two scientists from Delft have discovered how baker’s yeast adapts to this issue.

Antioxidant in action

Saccharomyces cerevisiaea, also known as baker’s yeast, is a yeast commonly used to bake bread and in the production of many types of beers. Apart from these many uses, the yeast also produces an antioxidant, called glutathion, to protect itself against high temperatures (above 40°C). An antioxidant is a compound that catches free radicals, which are damaging molecules often produced at high temperatures. In this manner the yeasts cleans their environment of these radicals.  A single yeast cell does not produce enough glutathion to protect itself, therefore it only works when a high density of yeasts cell produce the antioxidant. This cooperation allows the yeast population to survive at high temperatures.

Adapting to the climate

Climate change is a topic that is currently discussed more than ever before in science. Many questions arise about how microbes can adapt to climate change.  This study showed how a yeast-microbe could do so to protect itself against high temperatures. However, the question about as to how other microbes adapt in order to survive remains unanswered. Would you like to know more about different developments in microbiology, visit .