Section: Application Domains
Winemaking and improved strain selection
Yeasts and bacteria are essential for the winemaking process, and selection of strains based both on their efficiency and on the influence on the quality of wine is a subject of significant effort in the Aquitaine region. Unlike the species studied above, yeast and bacterial starters for winemaking cannot be genetically modified. In order to propose improved and more specialized starters, industrial producers use breeding and selection strategies.
Comparative genomics is a powerful tool for strain selection even when genetic engineering must be excluded. Large-scale comparison of the genomes of experimentally characterized strains can be used to identify quantitative trait loci, which can be used as markers in selective breeding strategies. Identifying individual SNPs and predicting their effect can lead to better understanding of the function of genes implicated in improved strain performance, particularly when those genes are naturally mutated or are the result of the transfer of genetic material from other strains. And understanding the combined effect of groups of genes or alleles can lead to insight in the phenomenon of heterosis.