Assessing the Risk Associated with Genetically Modified Yeast Strains

Project Number
IWBT 05-07

Project title
Assessing the risk associated with genetically modified yeast strains

Project leader
Bauer, F F

University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of AgriSciences. Institute for Wine Biotechnology

Project description
In recent years, considerable efforts have been made to improve strains of the wine yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae through the use of modern biotechnological tools. The main targets for these wine yeast strain development programmes have been, and still are, the improvement of fermentation performance, processing efficiency, and wine sensory quality, as well as the development of new strains providing reduced risks and enhanced benefits for health. Currently, numerous stable genetically modified wine yeast strains already exist in laboratories, while many others are being constructed. Genetically modified wine yeast strains have not, as yet, been used in the wine industry. This situation is mainly due to concerns relating to the use of genetically modified organism in food production. Nevertheless, the arrival on the market of genetically modified wine yeast strains appears imminent and an urgent need to assess the potential risks that may be associated with the use of this new technology throughout the wine production chain exists. This presentation will focus on the existing data generated by current research projects regarding the assessment of such risks. More specifically, we will present data and projects on
(i) the available detection methods to monitor genetically modified wine yeast strains through the overall wine production chain
(ii) the survival and dynamics of industrial wild type and
(iii) genetically modified wine yeast strains in natural habitats and winemaking environments
(iv) the potential for natural gene transfer between yeast and the natural wine micro-flora
(v) the analysis of possible side effects of genetic modifications on yeast strain and product quality.

Barnard, D, Wolfaardt, G M and Bauer, F F. 2005. Investigating the occurrence of horizontal gene transfer between yeast and other wine-associated micro-organisms. Paper presented at the 3rd International Congress of the South African Society for Viticulture and Enology. 28-30 July, Cape Town, South Africa.

Bauer, F F, Dequin, S, Pretorius, I S, Schoeman, H, Wolfaardt, G M, Schroeder, M B, Grossman, M K. 2004. The assessment of the environmental impact of genetically modified wine yeast strains, Bulletin d’OIV, v. 77 (p. 515-528)


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