Synthetic biology stretching the realms of possibility in wine yeast research

Umesh B. Jagtap, Jyoti P. Jadhav, Vishwas A. Bapat, Isak S. Pretorius*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


It took several millennia to fully understand the scientific intricacies of the process through which grape juice is turned into wine. This yeast-driven fermentation process is still being perfected and advanced today. Motivated by ever-changing consumer preferences and the belief that the ‘best’ wine is yet to be made, numerous approaches are being pursued to improve the process of yeast fermentation and the quality of wine. Central to recent enhancements in winemaking processes and wine quality is the development of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strains with improved robustness, fermentation efficiencies and sensory properties. The emerging science of Synthetic Biology – including genome engineering and DNA editing technologies – is taking yeast strain development into a totally new realm of possibility. The first example of how future wine strain development might be impacted by these new ‘history-making’ Synthetic Biology technologies, is the de novo production of the raspberry ketone aroma compound, 4-[4-hydroxyphenyl]butan-2-one, in a wine yeast containing a synthetic DNA cassette. This article explores how this breakthrough and the imminent outcome of the international Yeast 2.0 (or Sc2.0) project, aimed at the synthesis of the entire genome of a laboratory strain of S. cerevisiae, might accelerate the design of improved wine yeasts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-34
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017


  • Bioengineering
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Sc2.0
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Synthetic genomics
  • Wine
  • Yeast 2.0


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