The Patagonian Hypothesis

Credit: Photo by Diego Libkind, Institute for Biodiversity and Environment Research, Bariloche, Argentina

At the World Brewing Congress last week, one of the more interesting yeast talks was presented by the genetics scientist Diego Libkind, Ph.D, of Argentina, who discussed “Genetic roots of lager-brewing yeast: Saccharomyces eubayanus and the Patagonian hypothesis.” As he reported in the abstract on the talk, “Recently, a worldwide survey yielded a novel yeast dubbed S. eubayanus from Patagonian native forests of Argentina that was shown to be the closest known match (99.5%) to the non-ale portion of lager yeasts and, thus, its putative progenitor. Identifying the wild genetic stock of the cryotolerant side of S. pastorianus allowed resolution of the hitherto confusing taxonomy of the most relevant brewing yeast and the understanding of key events that led to the domestication of lager yeast.” He continued, ” … the available information relevant to the discussion on how and when such a half European and half Patagonian yeast hybrid might have been originated will be addressed in this presentation.” Indeed, it was, and the talk generated lots of interest and questions from assembled brewers and scientists.

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