The Hittinger Lab

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Wild YEAST Program

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. Click here to download the sample instructions and sheet, or if you need more sample sheets, click here.