1. Introduction

  1. Prof. Dr. Horst Feldmann1,2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9783527659180.ch1

Yeast: Molecular and Cell Biology, Second Edition

Yeast: Molecular and Cell Biology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Feldmann, H. (ed) (2012) Introduction, in Yeast: Molecular and Cell Biology, Second Edition, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany. doi: 10.1002/9783527659180.ch1

Editor Information

  1. 1

    Adolf Butenandt Institute, Molecular Biology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität M¨nchen, Schillerstr. 44, 80336 M¨nchen, Germany

  2. 2

    Ludwig-Thoma-Strasse 22B, 85232 Bergkirchen, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012
  2. Published Print: 22 AUG 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9783527332526

Online ISBN: 9783527659180



  • historicalaspects;
  • yeast;
  • eukaryotic model system;
  • molecular biology;
  • cell biology


• There is no doubt that yeast, S. cerevisiae, is one of the oldest domesticated organisms. It has served mankind for thousands of years for baking bread, and making beer and wine. We owe a first glimpse of its nature to van Leeuwenhoek's microscopic description at the end of the seventeenth century. Still, the capability of yeast of fermenting sugar remained a mystery until the middle of the nineteenth century when fermentation could be correlated with yeast metabolism. Indeed, the expression “enzymes” describing the cellular compounds involved in this process is derived from this organism (en zymi = in yeast).

• Around 1930, it was recognized that yeast represents an ideal system to investigate cell architecture and fundamental cellular mechanisms, successfully competing with other model organisms such as Drosophila or Neurospora. Yeast combines several advantages: it has a propagation time comparable to bacterial cells and can be used for mass production of material, it is a unicellular eukaryote that can be grown on defined media, and it is easily tractable to classical genetic analysis including mutational analysis, thus allowing genetic mapping. No wonder then that yeast qualified as a model organism to study metabolic pathways by biochemical and genetic approaches at the same time. Another benefit offered by the yeast system was the possibility to isolate its subcellular components in sufficient quantity and to dissect their functional significance.

• As soon as molecular approaches became available in the mid-1950s, they were successfully applied to yeast. Finally, with the deciphering of its complete genome sequence in 1996, yeast became the first eukaryotic organism that could serve as a model for systematic functional analysis, and as a suitable reference for human, animal, or plant genes and those of a multitude of unicellular organisms. In fact, these comparisons provided evidence that substantial cellular functions are highly conserved from yeast to mammals.