Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 57, Supplement 1, pp S226–S232

Evidence for S. cerevisiae Fermentation in Ancient Wine

  • Duccio Cavalieri
  • Patrick E. McGovern
  • Daniel L. Hartl
  • Robert Mortimer
  • Mario Polsinelli

DOI: 10.1007/s00239-003-0031-2

Cite this article as:
Cavalieri, D., McGovern, P.E., Hartl, D.L. et al. J Mol Evol (2003) 57: S226. doi:10.1007/s00239-003-0031-2


Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the principal yeast used in modern fermentation processes, including winemaking, breadmaking, and brewing. From residue present inside one of the earliest known wine jars from Egypt, we have extracted, amplified, and sequenced ribosomal DNA from S.cerevisiae. These results indicate that this organism was probably responsible for wine fermentation by at least 3150 B.C. This inference has major implications for the evolution of bread and beer yeasts, since it suggests that S. cerevisiae yeast, which occurs naturally on the surface bloom of grapes, was also used as an inoculum to ferment cereal products.


Ancient DNAEvolutionFermentationÖtztal Alps IcemanSaccharomyces cerevisiaeWinemaking

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York LLC 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Duccio Cavalieri
    • 1
  • Patrick E. McGovern
    • 2
  • Daniel L. Hartl
    • 3
  • Robert Mortimer
    • 4
  • Mario Polsinelli
    • 5
  1. 1.Bauer Center for Genomics ResearchHarvard University, 7 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138USA
  2. 2.Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology (MASCA)University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA 19104USA
  3. 3.Department of Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyHarvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138USA
  4. 4.Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of California, Berkeley, CA 94720USA
  5. 5.Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e GeneticaUniversity of Florence, Via romana 17-19, 50125 FlorenceItaly