When scientists in France set out to sequence 1,000 yeast genomes, they looked at strains from all the places you might expect: beer, bread, wine.
[T]hey wanted these samples to see if they could confirm their suspicions about the historical origin of yeast. The results of their analysis, published in Nature, suggest that yeast came from, of all places, China.
The most telling clue is that yeast in and around China has the most genetic diversity of anywhere in the world. Liti had already suspected this, having worked with Chinese researchers who collected yeast from remote primeval forests. But the massive sequencing confirmed just how unique yeast in East Asia are: There are more differences between yeast strains from Taiwan and Hainan—both tropical islands off the coast of China—than there are between strains in the United States and Europe, separated by the entire Atlantic Ocean.
Once wild yeast strains made it out of Asia, humans likely domesticated them several times to make the yeasty foods that we know: beer, bread, wine.
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