Scientists have engineered a type of yeast capable of enhancing the health benefits of wine, and at the same time, reducing the toxic byproducts that produce hangover in the user.

As per the associate professor of microbial genomics in the University of Illinois and principal investigator in the Energy Biosciences Institute, Yong-Su Jin, fermented foods like wine, beer, and bread were prepared with polyploid strains of yeast, meaning thereby that these possessed multiple copies of genes within the genome. Jin added that by then, it had been extremely difficult to perform genetic engineering in polyploid strains because on altering a gene in one copy of the genome, the unaltered copy restored the one that had been altered.

Scientists have recently developed a ‘genome knife’ that could cut multiple copies of the targeted gene in the genome very precisely and minutely till all copies were cut. Jin’s group of scientists had used RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease enzyme to perform precise metabolic engineering of the stains of polyploid Saccharmyces cerevisiae that had been extensively used in beer, wine, and other fermentation industries. Jin further added that possibilities for improving the nutritive value of foods had been immense. As for instance, Jin added, wine contained resveratrol, a healthful component, which could be increased 10 times or even more with the engineered yeast in a variety of wines. Additionally, Jin said, metabolic pathways could be added to introduce into the wine yeast some bioactive compounds of other foods like ginseng. Alternatively, he added, one could introduce resveratrol-producing pathways into the strains of the yeast used for kefir, beer, kimchee, cheese, pickles, or any food in which yeast fermentation was used for production.

The research on the topic had been published in a journal namely Applied and Environmental Microbiology.