The Yeast… We Can Do

They’re trying to custom design how your internal organs work and it all has to do with programming DNA, working to create “on/off” switches: a DNA memory device of sorts using a vast number of genes and DNA/RNA components. One of the perks is that they may be able to trigger cells to both monitor and maintain glucose levels. For the diabetic? Nirvana.

How about an engineered virus that fights disease and illness?

What the hell does this have to do with beer?


They’re starting with beer yeast, splicing together different types; trying to engineer yeast to flocculate at specific times: a yeast designed to floc exactly when the brewer wants it floc… to make up a shortened version of “flocculate.”

Yes, I can type the word “flocculate” without winding up labeled as porno by the net police. (Where are they? haven’t seen the spam-bot police cars lately. Think I just saw a curse word speed by doing well over $#@!%^$#@!.)

floc·cu·late (fl?k’y?-l?t’)

1. To cause (soil) to form lumps or masses.
2. To cause (clouds) to form fluffy masses.


To form lumpy or fluffy masses.

Something that has formed lumpy or fluffy masses.

And, by the way, also used in regard to yeast when they get very excited. “Yum, fermentables.” And, no, I won’t provide “pictures.” Except for those of us who brew: very boring. Remember Biology 101? Yup. I wanted to sleep through it too.

Due to a spin off field often called “synthetic biology,” as a homebrewer I not only have designer yeast swimming in my wert filled; foamy, head, but have started imagining yeasts like one that’s both ale and lager: with the advantages of both. Get that old fermentation going top and bottom. How about a yeast that can be added at times that would normally kill yeast, but only start fermenting when designed to do so? There’s so many yeasty visions swimming in my head and, to be honest, I’m not sure how many might be possible. At this stage… I’ll bet they’re not sure either.

So someday when you get your diabetes under control and can live like those who have better sugar control, or get your liver “fixed…” (Or replaced with a better designed one?) …because you spent too much time punishing the last one, thank that itsy bitsy yeasty who helped lead the way.

All thanks to; let’s all do the Homer Simpson quote together… BEER.

Want to learn more? Click HERE. And HERE. And HERE.

5 Replies to “The Yeast… We Can Do”

  1. I’m with Ana Grarian — I hope it’s clearly labeled that this is genetically-modified suds, and I hope they test this beer thoroughly.

    As we’ve seen with the recent outbeak of this new Swine Flu virus, undesirable mutant strains can unexpectedly pop up, and this is especially true in artificially-modified crops. (Not to mention how this might affect the taste.)

    The rampant cases of Type-2 diabetes in this country are mainly caused by processed food and too damn much refined sugar, from what I’ve read, not the naturally-femented sugars in beer.

  2. From my limited understanding I am a tad less concerned here than I am with, say, inserting a pig gene into a tomato or some of the more bizarre concoctions. That’s not how this works. They actually beyond cellular level and work with the timing mechanism, for example. So it still would be the basic component, they just design it to turn on at a different time.

    Some of this is way beyond my somewhat college level understanding. Science was not my major by any means. As a species we have been doing this to a certain; far far less complex, extent through selective breeding. Dangerous at this level? Perhaps, though I don’t think Pandora’s Box could… or perhaps should… be shut. Will they be careful? Hope so.

    As far as beer goes, brewers have been putting odd sugars into beer for a long time… like Belgian candy sugar. (In Belgium they use yeast some far more anal German brewers would toss; consider tainted. And they make some of the most fascinating beer in the world, in part, because of this.) Being able to custom design how, and when, a yeast flocs is a brewer’s dream. It might even address the “stuck fermentation” issue. If you know that yeastie is supposed to start flocculate at a exact time, then you know “stuck” or not.

    Re: diabetes. Yeast creates alcohol, so the sugars are mostly fermented out… though some beers can be less fully fermented, especially when you get to stuff like barleywine where the high alcohol content can get a bit unfriendly with some yeasts. That’s why some bws can have a lot of residue sweetness. I would assume this meddling could actually address that somewhat. But otherwise the diabetes issue when it comes to beer has more to do with alcohol and carbs than sugar. And… could altering yeasts/timing mechanisms address that too?

    And a final question for all those brewers out there…

    If only sheep could study brewing techniques at Siebel, would they have to rename the institute, “Floc Ewe?”

  3. Yes this is less disturbing than a pig gene in a tomato, but they are still using gene splicing techniques. This is not like breeding for a trait by choosing the plant or animal with the most desirable traits and then breeding only those plants or animals. This is using laboratory techniques to invade the cellular integrity of the yeast and to change its DNA.

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