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Traditional Norwegian Kveik Are a Genetically Distinct Group of Domesticated Saccharomyces cerevisiae Brewing Yeasts

  • Preiss, Richard1, 2
  • Tyrawa, Caroline1
  • Krogerus, Kristoffer3, 4
  • Garshol, Lars Marius5
  • van der Merwe, George1
  • 1 Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON , (Canada)
  • 2 Escarpment Laboratories, Guelph, ON , (Canada)
  • 3 VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Espoo , (Finland)
  • 4 Department of Biotechnology and Chemical Technology, School of Chemical Technology, Aalto University, Espoo , (Finland)
  • 5 Independent Researcher, Rælingen , (Norway)
Published Article
Frontiers in Microbiology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Sep 12, 2018
DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.02137
  • Microbiology
  • Original Research


The widespread production of fermented food and beverages has resulted in the domestication of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeasts specifically adapted to beer production. While there is evidence beer yeast domestication was accelerated by industrialization of beer, there also exists a farmhouse brewing culture in western Norway which has passed down yeasts referred to as kveik for generations. This practice has resulted in ale yeasts which are typically highly flocculant, phenolic off flavor negative (POF-), and exhibit a high rate of fermentation, similar to previously characterized lineages of domesticated yeast. Additionally, kveik yeasts are reportedly high-temperature tolerant, likely due to the traditional practice of pitching yeast into warm (>28°C) wort. Here, we characterize kveik yeasts from 9 different Norwegian sources via PCR fingerprinting, whole genome sequencing of selected strains, phenotypic screens, and lab-scale fermentations. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that kveik yeasts form a distinct group among beer yeasts. Additionally, we identify a novel POF- loss-of-function mutation, as well as SNPs and CNVs potentially relevant to the thermotolerance, high ethanol tolerance, and high fermentation rate phenotypes of kveik strains. We also identify domestication markers related to flocculation in kveik. Taken together, the results suggest that Norwegian kveik yeasts are a genetically distinct group of domesticated beer yeasts with properties highly relevant to the brewing sector.

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