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Yeast bioprospecting versus synthetic biology—which is better for innovative beverage fermentation?


Producers often utilise some of the many available yeast species and strains in the making of fermented alcoholic beverages in order to augment flavours, aromas, acids and textural properties. But still, the demand remains for more yeasts with novel phenotypes that not only impact sensory characteristics but also offer process and engineering advantages. Two strategies for finding such yeasts are (i) bioprospecting for novel strains and species and (ii) genetic modification of known yeasts. The latter enjoys the promise of the emerging field of synthetic biology, which, in principle, would enable scientists to create yeasts with the exact phenotype desired for a given fermentation. In this mini review, we compare and contrast advances in bioprospecting and in synthetic biology as they relate to alcoholic fermentation in brewing and wine making. We explore recent advances in fermentation-relevant recombinant technologies and synthetic biology including the Yeast 2.0 Consortium, use of environmental yeasts, challenges, constraints of law and consumer acceptance.

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The University of Adelaide is a member of the Wine Innovation Cluster (


This project was supported by funding from Wine Australia (UA1803-2.1) and The Australian Research Council Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production (; IC170100008), which is funded by the Australian Government with additional support from Wine Australia and industry partners. LA received a scholarship from the Playford Memorial Trust Inc.

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Correspondence to Vladimir Jiranek.

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Alperstein, L., Gardner, J.M., Sundstrom, J.F. et al. Yeast bioprospecting versus synthetic biology—which is better for innovative beverage fermentation?. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 104, 1939–1953 (2020).

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  • Bioprospecting
  • Yeast
  • Synthetic biology
  • Yeast 2.0
  • Wine