Wine-lovers, rejoice! A new yeast strain could soon mean a few glasses tonight won’t make you hate life tomorrow.
Scientists may have developed a strain of yeast that would not only curb hangovers, but also increase the health benefits of wine.
In a study published online March 16 in the journal Applied Environmental Microbiology, researchers claimed they found a way to genetically engineer polyploid strains of yeast — those found in fermented foods and beverages — and alter the genes using a “genome knife.” This means scientists may be able to increase the parts of the gene that are beneficial.
Lead study author Dr. Yong-Su Jin, a University of Illinois associate professor of microbial genomics, said in a press release that the possibilities for improving the nutritional value in foods are staggering.
"Wine, for instance, contains the healthful component resveratrol," Dr. Jin said. "With engineered yeast, we could increase the amount of resveratrol in a variety of wine by 10 times or more."
Winemakers could then clone the enzyme to enhance a secondary fermentation process that makes wine smooth while avoiding the toxic byproducts of improper fermentation — which are often behind hangover symptoms, Dr. Jin said.
Scientists could also take bioactive compounds from other foods, such as ginseng, and add them to wine yeast to further increase its health benefits, Dr. Jin noted.
“Or we could put resveratrol-producing pathways into yeast strains used for beer, kefir, cheese, kimchee, or pickles — any food that uses yeast fermentation in its production,” Dr. Jin said.
The Energy Biosciences Institute funded this research. Conflict of interest information was not available at the time of publication.