Yeast has served our human species for more than 4,000 years. How
interesting it is to find an article in SCIENCE, October 25, 1996, about
yeast that is new and exciting. The article, entitled, "Life with 6000
genes.", lists 15 authors from around the world and starts as follows:
"The genome of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been
completely sequenced through an international effort involving some 600
scientists in Europe, North America, and Japan. It is the largest genome to
be completely sequenced so far and is the first complete genome sequence of
a eukaryote. A number of public data libraries compiling the mapping
information and nucleotide and protein sequence data from each of the 16
chromosomes have been established."
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the very yeast that is used for baking bread!
One of the interesting points about this report is the finding that we have
so much in common with the yeast! We share many of the same genes. There is
a great deal of redundancy among the genes (many appear to be duplicated).
It is believed that the reason for this is that the yeast may have this
duplication of genes for allowing it to survive in the wild, as when it
comes into contact with environmental stresses.
What is going to happen next with the Yeast? A large scale program is being
started to understand how the yeast genes works. One gene at a time will be
removed to see how the yeast cells function without it and to determine
thereby, what each gene contributes to the whole.
The rapid progress in this field is attributed to the combination of
scientific laboratories working with the world wide web, which made
possible the rapid exchange of information and the early completion of the project.