It’s even dog eat dog in the microscopic world of yeasts. Good grief.
Wine Spectator‘s Jacob Gaffney has just posted an article about some freshly published research into yeasts that shows how Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the brewer’s and baker’s (and winemaker’s) yeast, has elbowed its way to the front of the queue for fermenting wine and beer. On its evolutionary road to success through the millenia, S. cerevisiae has acquired the knack of producing alcohol, storing it, and then using it to knock out any competing yeasts as ruthlessly as Richard III. shoving Clarence into the butt of malmsey. It can ferment with or without oxygen, even in the dark, and withstands heat, acid and alcohol to a degree that other yeasts just can’t match.
Here’s Jacob Gaffney’s Wine Spectator article, which provides some detail:
How Evolution Made Nature’s Perfect Winemaker
And, if you’re up to it, here comes the science: the researchers’ findings (from Nature Communications):
Parallel evolution of the make–accumulate–consume strategy in Saccharomyces and Dekkera yeasts