Drawing on the past to shape the future of synthetic yeast research

Thomas A. Dixon, Isak S. Pretorius*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Some years inspire more hindsight reflection and future-gazing than others. This is even more so in 2020 with its evocation of perfect vision and the landmark ring to it. However, no futurist can reliably predict what the world will look like the next time that a year’s first two digits will match the second two digits—a numerical pattern that only occurs once in a century. As we leap into a new decade, amid uncertainties triggered by unforeseen global events—such as the outbreak of a worldwide pandemic, the accompanying economic hardship, and intensifying geopolitical tensions—it is important to note the blistering pace of 21st century technological developments indicate that while hindsight might be 20/20, foresight is 50/50. The history of science shows us that imaginative ideas, research excellence, and collaborative innovation can, for example, significantly contribute to the economic, cultural, social, and environmental recovery of a post-COVID-19 world. This article reflects on a history of yeast research to indicate the potential that arises from advances in science, and how this can contribute to the ongoing recovery and development of human society. Future breakthroughs in synthetic genomics are likely to unlock new avenues of impactful discoveries and solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7156
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • biodesign
  • biodiversity
  • consilience
  • engineering biology
  • fermentation
  • scientific method
  • synthetic genomics
  • timeline
  • yeast


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