Yeasts: From Nature to Bioprocesses

Are Yeasts “Humanity’s Best Friends”?

Author(s): Sérgio L. Alves Jr*, Helen Treichel, Thiago O. Basso and Boris U. Stambuk

Pp: 431-458 (28)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815051063122020017

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


The beginning of the relationship between humans and yeasts is commonly
assigned to the Neolithic revolution. However, the role of these microorganisms as gut
symbionts of humans and other animals cannot be disregarded. In this case, the
timespan of this relationship should be measured in hundreds (not tens) of thousands of
years. Evidently, the hypothesis that the aforementioned symbiosis began precisely
with the domestication of yeasts during the Neolithic revolution period cannot be ruled
out as well. In any case, the relationship between humans and yeasts has broadly
developed from the moment humanity started to domesticate them to produce bread
and beverages, which seems to coincide with the Neolithic revolution period. Since
then, humanity has created novel bioprocesses with yeasts, even though the role of
these microorganisms was only really understood in the 19th century, especially with
the studies of Louis Pasteur. Today, yeasts drive a trillion-dollar global market, which
most likely presents the highest value among all sectors of industrial microbiology. In
this context, this book’s last chapter addresses the importance of yeasts in our society,
with positive impacts on the economy and the health of humans, animals, and plants.
We also discuss the role of these microorganisms in maintaining the balance and
diversity of species in the environment as a whole. Finally, we close the chapter by
highlighting the effects of their environmental role on human well-being and outlining
the potential of wild yeasts that can drift from nature to new bioprocesses.

Keywords: Beer, Beverage, Biocontrol, Biodiesel, Biotechnology, Bread, Cheese, Chocolate, Decomposition, Ethanol, Food industry, Growth-promoting, Microbial factory, Pharmaceuticals, Probiotic, Saccharomyces, Single-cell protein, Vaccine, VOCs, Wine.

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