8 Amazing Facts About Yeast That You Probably Didn’t Know

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Last Updated on September 25, 2023 by Share My Kitchen

The history of yeast stretches back thousands of years. It was used in Ancient Egypt for both baking bread and brewing beer. However, it was only in 1857 that Louis Pasteur discovered yeast was the ingredient responsible for fermentation.

If you didn’t know that, you probably don’t know the following eight amazing facts about yeast either.

1. Yeast Lives!

Did you know that yeast is actually alive? It’s a single-celled organism that belongs to the fungi kingdom. It contains a cellular nucleus with DNA-packed chromosomes, unlike bacteria.

2. There Are Thousands of Yeast Species

Incredibly, over 1,500 species of yeast have been identified so far, each of which has its own unique characteristics and abilities.

The one species most people are familiar with is saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is used in baking and brewing.

3. Yeast Contains Essential Vitamins

Yeast contains many essential vitamins that are beneficial for humans.

For instance, a serving of nutritional yeast can contribute towards your recommended intake of various B vitamins, including:

  • Riboflavin (B2)
  • Niacin (B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (B5)
  • Pyridoxine (B6)
  • Folic acid (B9)
  • Cobalamin (B12)

Some yeast species even contain traces of other essential nutrients such as zinc, selenium, and manganese.

4. Thiolized Yeast Has Been Developed to Unlock Aroma-Enhancing Thials in Beer

In recent times, we have seen brewing innovations with thiolized yeast. Amazingly, the yeast is able to enhance the aromas of beers.

It has been specifically engineered to unlock thiols, which are the sulfur-containing organic compounds responsible for many of the tropical and citrus notes in hop-forward beers.

Thiolized yeast works like this: as it ferments, the yeast bio-transforms non-aromatic precursors into aromatic thiols to add new depth to beer flavor profiles.

This innovative step revolutionizes traditional brewing by emphasizing nuanced aromas and tastes in craft beers.

5. Yeast Eats, But Not Like Humans

Seeing as yeast is alive, like other living things, it needs to eat. However, it doesn’t eat in the same way as humans do.

In fact, yeast does something rather fascinating during its mealtime. It ferments carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.

6. Yeast Is Asexual

Under favorable conditions, yeast multiplies rapidly using an asexual reproduction method known as budding.

A small bubble forms on the parent cell. It then continuously grows until it separates from the parent cell.

7. Yeast Is Used in Genetic Research

Yeast isn’t only used in brewing and baking. It has also been playing a pivotal role in genetics research.

Specifically, saccharomyces cerevisiae is extensively used for studying genetic behavior, due to its simplicity and similarity with cell functions in plants and animals.

What we know today about gene expression and cellular aging owes a lot to yeast.

Interestingly, mapping the genome sequence of saccharomyces cerevisiae, in the 1990s, was one of the earliest successes in genome mapping, and it set the precedent for future genetic research.

Today, over 6,000 genes of yeast have been identified; giving us remarkable insight into genetic coding.

8. Yeast Has Multiple Uses

Besides baking, brewing, and genetic research, yeast has other uses. It is often used in creating consumables like dietary supplements and some probiotics.

Yeast even plays a significant role in producing industrial enzymes and biofuel.

Furthermore, yeast has proven to be incredibly powerful in advancing our understanding of diseases.

Seeing as medical researchers often use saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model organism, due to its genetic similarity to human cells, the yeast allows scientists to explore human cellular physiology and pathology.

In fact, the humble yeast assists in disease research more than you might think. It helps scientists understand molecular mechanisms associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease.

The insights provided by yeast could lead to better treatments or even possible cures for those devastating diseases.

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