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The Genome Sequence of the Jean-Talon Strain, an Archeological Beer Yeast from Québec, Reveals Traces of Adaptation to Specific Brewing Conditions

  • Fijarczyk, Anna1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Hénault, Mathieu1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Marsit, Souhir1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Charron, Guillaume1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Fischborn, Tobias6
  • Nicole-Labrie, Luc7
  • Landry, Christian R.1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • 1 Département de Biologie, Université Laval, Québec, G1V 0A6, Canada
  • 2 Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes (IBIS), Université Laval, Québec, G1V 0A6, Canada
  • 3 Département de Biochimie, Microbiologie et Bioinformatique, Université Laval, Québec, G1V 0A6, Canada
  • 4 PROTEO, Le réseau québécois de recherche sur la fonction, la structure et l’ingénierie des protéines, Université Laval, Québec, G1V 0A6, Canada
  • 5 Centre de Recherche en Données Massives (CRDM), Université Laval, Québec, G1V 0A6, Canada
  • 6 Lallemand Inc., Montreal, H1W 2N8 Québec, Canada
  • 7 National Battlefields Commission, Quebec, G1R 2L3, Canada
Published Article
G3 Genes|Genome|Genetics
The Genetics Society of America
Publication Date
Jun 30, 2020
DOI: 10.1534/g3.120.401149
PMID: 32605927
PMCID: PMC7466965
PubMed Central


The genome sequences of archeological Saccharomyces cerevisiae isolates can reveal insights about the history of human baking, brewing and winemaking activities. A yeast strain called Jean-Talon was recently isolated from the vaults of the Intendant’s Palace of Nouvelle France on a historical site in Québec City. This site was occupied by breweries from the end of the 17th century until the middle of the 20th century when poisoning caused by cobalt added to the beer led to a shutdown of brewing activities. We sequenced the genome of the Jean-Talon strain and reanalyzed the genomes of hundreds of strains to determine how it relates to other domesticated and wild strains. The Jean-Talon strain is most closely related to industrial beer strains from the beer and bakery genetic groups from the United Kingdom and Belgium. It has numerous aneuploidies and Copy Number Variants (CNVs), including the main gene conferring cobalt resistance in yeast. The Jean-Talon strain has indeed higher tolerance to cobalt compared to other yeast strains, consistent with adaptation to the most recent brewing activities on the site. We conclude from this that the Jean-Talon strain most likely derives from recent brewing activities and not from the original breweries of Nouvelle France on the site.

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