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End the duopoly

Meet baker’s yeast, the budding, single-celled fungus that fluffs your bread

Baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, proofing with sugar and water in a ​40-minute time-lapse animation. Credit: Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo They live in bread dough. They die in your oven.

At the grocery store , where you buy them, they sit in little glass jars, dormant on the shelf, waiting to be rehydrated so they can do their life’s work, eating sugar and releasing carbon dioxide to form bubbles in your bread.

Baker’s yeast has become a sought-after pandemic commodity as people bake at home.

But how much do you really know about this organism, a single-celled fungus that scientists call Saccharomyces cerevisiae?

As it turns out, baker’s yeast is a common model organism that researchers use to study biological processes , including disease. A number of biologists in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences regularly grow the species in their labs, and a few took time to discuss the wacky, wonderful science of S. cerevisiae.

What is baker’s yeast? (Don’t worry —it won’t grow into a mushroom) “Yeast is a fungus that grows as a single cell , rather than as a mushroom,” says Laura Rusche, Ph.D., UB associate professor of biological sciences.Though each yeast organism is made […]

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