Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains frequently exhibit rather specific phenotypic features needed for adaptation to a special environment. Wine yeast strains are able to ferment musts, for example, while other industrial or laboratory strains fail to do so. The genetic differences that characterize wine yeast strains are poorly understood, however. As a first search of genetic differences between wine and laboratory strains, we performed DNA-array analyses on the typical wine yeast strain T73 and the standard laboratory background in S288c. Our analysis shows that even under normal conditions, logarithmic growth in YPD medium, the two strains have expression patterns that differ significantly in more than 40 genes. Subsequent studies indicated that these differences correlate with small changes in promoter regions or variations in gene copy number. Blotting copy numbers vs. transcript levels produced patterns, which were specific for the individual strains and could be used for a characterization of unknown samples. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.