Interspecies hybridization has been shown to be a powerful tool for developing and improving brewing yeast in a number of industry-relevant respects. Thanks to the popularity of heavily hopped ‘India Pale Ale’-style beers, there is an increased demand from brewers for strains that can boost hop aroma. Here, we explored whether hybridization could be used to construct strains with an enhanced ability to release hop-derived flavours through β-lyase activity, which releases desirable volatile thiols. Wild Saccharomyces strains were shown to possess high β-lyase activity compared to brewing strains, however, they also produced phenolic off-flavours (POF) and showed poor attenuation. To overcome these limitations, interspecies hybrids were constructed by crossing pairs of one of three brewing and one of three wild Saccharomyces strains (S. uvarum and S. eubayanus). Hybrids were screened for fermentation ability and β-lyase activity, and selected hybrids showed improved fermentation and formation of both volatile thiols (4MMP, 3MH and 3MH-acetate) and aroma-active esters compared to the parent strains. Undesirable traits (e.g. POF) could be removed from the hybrid by sporulation. To conclude, it was possible to boost the release of desirable hop-derived thiols in brewing yeast by hybridization with wild yeast. This allows production of beer with boosted hop aroma with less hops (thus improving sustainability issues).
- Strain development