The highly diverse Ascomycete yeasts have enormous biotechnological potential. Collectively, these yeasts convert a broad range of substrates into useful compounds, such as ethanol, lipids, and vitamins, and can grow in extremes of temperature, salinity, and pH. We compared 29 yeast genomes with the goal of correlating genetics to useful traits. In one rare species, we discovered a genetic code that translates CUG codons to alanine rather than canonical leucine. Genome comparison enabled correlation of genes to useful metabolic properties and showed the synteny of the mating-type locus to be conserved over a billion years of evolution. Our study provides a roadmap for future biotechnological exploitations.
More information, for example, about my whole-genome sequence-based phylogenomic analysis using the GBDP approach, are found in the according PNAS publication.