We use yeasts to study basic and applied aspects of microbial physiology, fungal development and evolutionary ecology. We address questions related to sugar utilization in yeast fermentations, to the evolution of sex in early diverged lineages of Basidiomycetes, or to the distribution and ecology of wild Saccharomyces populations and their domestication by man. To do so we combine the awesome power of Next-Generation (whole-genome) Sequencing with in-depth physiological and ecological studies.
Our work includes computational and experimental methods and integrates genomics, evolutionary genetics, ecology, microbial diversity and physiology.
The Yeast Genomics lab @ NOVA
Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia Universidade NOVA de Lisboa 2829-516 Caparica Portugal
Gonçalves et al. Evidence for loss and reacquisition of alcoholic fermentation in a fructophilic yeast lineage.
Fructophily is a rare trait that consists of the preference for fructose over other carbon sources. Here we show that, in a yeast lineage (the Wickerhamiella/Starmerella, W/S clade) comprised of fructophilic species thriving in the high-sugar floral niche, the acquisition of fructophily is concurrent with a wider remodeling of central carbon metabolism. Coupling comparative genomics with biochemical and genetic approaches, we gathered ample evidence for the loss of alcoholic fermentation in an ancestor of the W/S clade and subsequent reinstatement through either horizontal acquisition of homologous bacterial genes or modification of a pre-existing yeast gene. An enzyme required for sucrose assimilation was also acquired from bacteria, suggesting that the genetic novelties identified in the W/S clade may be related to adaptation to the high-sugar environment. This work shows how even central carbon metabolism can be remodeled by a surge of HGT events.