Identifying further opportunities and strategies for further strain optimisation: attendance of 14th International Conference on Yeasts (Awaji Is. Hyogo, Japan)


An AGWA travel award enabled the attendance of Dr Michelle Walker at the 14th International Congress on Yeasts held at Awaji Yumebutai, Hyogo Prefecture in Japan (11-15 September 2016). This congress, held every four years, attracted some 440 academic and industry delegates from about 40 countries, and included several reputable international speakers. The conference explored different yeast(s) and their genetics, synthetic biology and their application in the production of alcoholic beverages, and biotechnology (biofuel/high value products). The conference provided opportunities to meet informally with other researchers in related areas of yeast research.  Student participation was actively encouraged through sponsorship by the conference organisers and The Carl Singer Foundation. Students awarded scholarships gave short talks (as well as poster presentations) on their research.

An oral presentation (and poster) entitled ‘Mapping of genes responsible for yeast-derived modulation of colour in model red wine’ was given. A visit was undertaken to the research laboratories of Professor Hiroshiri Takagi (Nara Institute of Science and Technology). His research on how proline protects yeast from alcoholic stress during fermentation is of particular interest, as improved use of this nitrogen source in juice has been a long standing interest of our group.


Dr Michelle Walker travelled to Awaji Yumebutai in Hyogo Prefecture in Japan to attend the 14th International Congress on Yeast (ICY14) with Mr Chen-Wei (Max) Huang and Ms Eelin Tek (PhD students in the Jiranek group)

  • A 12 minute oral presentation was given on ‘The mapping of genes responsible for yeast colour modulation of a model red wine”
  • A poster presentation was given on the same research topic as the oral presentation
  • The meeting consisted of 10 concurrent sessions, five workshops incorporating 11 plenary lectures, one key note lecture and five short talk sessions. Topics included medically relevant yeast, industrial yeast and their applications (including Asian alcoholic beverages, and wine), systems/synthetic biology, yeast biology, stress response and adaption, ecology and taxonomy of non-conventional yeast, as well as lab automation and imaging technology.
  • Twelve reputable international speakers presented on topics of academic interest, some of which were relevant to wine microbiology: genome engineering to decipher genome function and use in breeding, genomics of stress adaptation and tolerance, yeast as a model for ecology and evolution, application of metabolic engineering in bio-refineries. Those of relevance to wine fermentation are discussed.
  • Discussions were held with several prominent yeast researchers on topics related to activities of Jiranek group, including new paradigms and opportunities for further strain optimisation.
  • Attendance at a satellite workshop on non-conventional yeast, during a one day visit to the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST). Potential future research collaborations with Professor Hiroshi Tagaki (NAIST) were initiated.