The engineered yeast was then used to brew hops-free ale.
The researchers, led by Professor Jay Kisling of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California-Berkeley, who published the publication in Nature Communications, according to the French Agency and Science, modified the genome of the fungus from which the beer yeast (its "living" ingredient that converts sugars into alcohol) so that they can achieve a taste similar to hops by introducing genes from other plants, peppermint and basil.
"Further, lots of energy is required for processing, transporting and storing" hops, Denby added. They infused brewer's yeast with DNA from mint and basil, which naturally produce hop-flavored terpenes.
Flowers from the hop plant give beers a signature "hoppy" bitterness and add flavor to the drink. Hop flavor was supplied only by the new yeast strains.
The results were so convincing that employees of the nearby Lagunitas Brewing Company, in taste tests, said the engineered beer tasted more hoppy than a conventionally brewed alternative.
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The researchers said that they are excited to make brewing process more sustainable. U.C. Berkeley researchers have developed strains of yeast that pull double duty: it aids in the fermentation process and also creates its own hops-like flavors. "That's what we're passionate about", he told Inside Science, "and that's why we are working hard on it".
The method was made trickier by the fact that commercial brewer's yeast has four sets of chromosomes, unlike the strains used in research labs, which typically possess a single pair.
They also had to find out, through computational analytics performed by Zak Costello, which promoters would produce the amounts of linalool and geraniol at the right times to approximate the concentrations in a hoppy beer, and then scale up fermentation by a factor of about 100 from test tube quantities to 40-liter kettles.
This modified yeast will make it will possible to put out batches of consistently-flavored beer and streamline production. According to Inside Science, the scientists were working on a way to alter yeast DNA so that it would produce oils that could be used as biofuels.