According to research published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, scientists at the University of Illinois have figured out a way to alter the genetics of yeast. This could lead to improved health benefits or even reduced hangovers for wine lovers. Phys.org reports that Yong-Su Jin — the university's principal investigator in the Energy Biosciences Institute — and his group have used a new "genome knife" to "do precise metabolic engineering of polyploid Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains that have been widely used in the wine, beer, and fermentation industries."
Improper malolactic fermentation generates the toxic byproducts that cause hangover symptoms.
Jin said this should allow them to perform such mutations as increasing the production of "healthful component resveratrol" in wine or adding resveratrol production to yeast strains used for beer. They could even improve malolactic fermentation, smoothing out the after-effects of wine. "Improper malolactic fermentation generates the toxic byproducts that may cause hangover symptoms," according to Jin.
If this process sounds a bit Monsanto-esque, Jin believes it should actually quell some concerns about GMOs, specifically the worry about microbes developing a tolerance for antibiotics. "Scientists have had to use antibiotic markers to indicate the spot of genetic alteration in an organism, and many persons objected to their use in foods because of the danger of developing antibiotic resistance. With the genome knife, we can cut the genome very precisely and efficiently so we don't have to use antibiotic markers to confirm a genetic event."