Saccharomyces pastorianus strains are hybrids of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces eubayanus that have been domesticated for centuries in lager beer brewing environments. As sequences and structures of S. pastorianus genomes are being resolved, molecular mechanisms and evolutionary origins of several industrially relevant phenotypes remain unknown. This study investigates how maltotriose metabolism, a key feature in brewing, may have arisen in early S. eubayanus α S. cerevisiae hybrids. To address this question, we generated a nearly complete genome assembly of Himalayan S. eubayanus strains of the Holarctic subclade. This group of strains has been proposed to be the S. eubayanus subgenome origin of current S. pastorianus strains. The Himalayan S. eubayanus genomes harbored several copies of an S. eubayanus AGT1 (SeAGT1) α-oligoglucoside transporter gene with high sequence identity to genes encountered in S. pastorianus. Although Himalayan S. eubayanus strains cannot grow on maltose and maltotriose, their maltose-hydrolase and SeMALT1 and SeAGT1 maltose transporter genes complemented the corresponding null mutants of S. cerevisiae. Expression, in Himalayan S. eubayanus of a functional S. cerevisiae maltose metabolism regulator gene (MALx3) enabled growth on oligoglucosides. The hypothesis that the maltotriose-positive phenotype in S. pastorianus is a result of heterosis was experimentally tested by constructing an S. cerevisiae α S. eubayanus laboratory hybrid with a complement of maltose metabolism genes that resembles that of current S. pastorianus strains. The ability of this hybrid to consume maltotriose in brewer's wort demonstrated regulatory cross talk between subgenomes and thereby validated this hypothesis. These results support experimentally the new postulated hypothesis on the evolutionary origin of an essential phenotype of lager brewing strains and valuable knowledge for industrial exploitation of laboratory-made S. pastorianus-like hybrids. IMPORTANCE S. pastorianus, an S. cerevisiae α S. eubayanus hybrid, is used for production of lager beer, the most produced alcoholic beverage worldwide. It emerged by spontaneous hybridization and colonized early lager brewing processes. Despite accumulation and analysis of genome sequencing data of S. pastorianus parental genomes, the genetic blueprint of industrially relevant phenotypes remains unresolved. Assimilation of maltotriose, an abundant sugar in wort, has been postulated to be inherited from the S. cerevisiae parent. Here, we demonstrate that although Asian S. eubayanus isolates harbor a functional maltotriose transporter SeAGT1 gene, they are unable to grow on α-oligoglucosides, but expression of S. cerevisiae regulator MAL13 (ScMAL13) was sufficient to restore growth on trisaccharides. We hypothesized that the S. pastorianus maltotriose phenotype results from regulatory interaction between S. cerevisiae maltose transcription activator and the promoter of SeAGT1. We experimentally confirmed the heterotic nature of the phenotype, and thus these results provide experimental evidence of the evolutionary origin of an essential phenotype of lager brewing strains.
- Experimental evolution sequencing
- Saccharomyces eubayanus
- α-oligoglucoside metabolism