October 24, 2023
Yeast: A tiny fungi with large ambitions in food and energy industries
The unicellular yeast has emerged as a ubiquitous household name due to its wide range of applications ranging from beverage and bread production to the manufacture of recombinant proteins.

Yeast, being nutritionally rich in various vitamins, minerals, and proteins, is consumed as a favorable food product by fitness and health enthusiasts in the form of products such as cereals and breads. Given the rapid pace of development of metabolic engineering and yeast fermentation technology, it comes as no surprise that the usage of yeast for beverage production and bakery applications is fast expanding. The usage of yeast to produce sustainable bioethanol is another reason for its growing popularity.

Research and investment initiatives have pushed the creation of newer strains of yeast capable of producing products having better taste and healthy properties. In September 2023, a startup company, Yeap, received investment from Lasaffre to upcycle yeast into a functional protein. Such instances showcase the potential of emerging startups to flourish in the yeast industry.

Advanced genomic technologies, such as CRISPR, allow researchers to tweak the genome and physiology of yeast and gain better insights into the mechanism used by yeast to make such diverse food items. AI has found itself at the forefront of precision fermentation technology in March 2023, when scientists from Imperial College London used AI to optimize yeast strains.

The application potential of yeasts and its products knows no upper bounds, and as the demand for tasteful food products gains momentum, the utilization of yeasts will increase tremendously.