Yeasts are diverse! They have more genetic and metabolic diversity than vertebrates (animals with backbones). Over 1,500 species of yeast have been described, and more are being discovered every month.
Wild YEAST (Yeast Exploration and Analysis Science Team) Program participants in the Hittinger Lab are an integral part of this exciting global research. High School and Undergraduate students apply for research training opportunities through specific programs at UW-Madison. They gather samples (soil, bark, mushrooms, rotting wood, etc.) from the wild and isolate the yeasts present.
Samples from relatively undisturbed habitats are likely to be particularly informative, but even your backyard may contain interesting yeasts. We track where the samples are collected, what trees they were near, what carbon sources they eat, and what temperatures they prefer. This tells us where specific yeasts are found in nature, how yeasts vary, how this variation is genetically encoded, and how it can be harnessed to produce useful products like biofuels.
YOU CAN participate, even if you are not at UW-Madison! Send us samples, and we will let you know what we find. Samples from natural areas where we have not already collected (blue dots on the map below) are particularly useful, especially if you can accurately record your location and the associated vegetation. Click here to download the sample instructions and sheet, or if you need more sample sheets, click here. If you are a teacher, apply for our RET program (click here for information) to learn how to adapt the Wild YEAST Program for the classroom. get your whole class involved. Contact the HittingerLab at genetics.wisc.edu for more information.
Chris Todd Hittinger
Laboratory of Genetics
425-G Henry Mall
2434 Genetics/Biotechnology Center
Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1580
Contact the Lab: HittingerLab at genetics(dot) wisc(dot)edu UW Directory Link