Australian scientists crack the code in world-first Brett research
Australian winemakers will soon have more control in managing wine spoilage thanks to breakthrough research which has revealed the genetic makeup of a problem yeast.
Scientists at The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) have sequenced the genome of Dekkera bruzellensis(Brettanomyces), commonly known as Brett, and in doing so have uncovered its genetic blueprint
The research, which was funded by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, was published for the first time in the November/December 2011 issue of the Wine and Viticulture Journal, out now.
The discovery is a world-first for the Australian wine industry and could lead to new strategies to manage the yeast, which has the potential to spoil wine with its ‘medicinal’ and ‘metallic’ characters.
AWRI managing director, professor Sakkie Pretorius, says the research will give Australian winemakers the upper-hand in tackling the spoilage yeast.
“Sequencing the Brett genome, which reveals its genetic blueprint, means the Australian wine industry can future-proof its strategy against Brett and the risk of spoilage,” Pretorius said.
The incident of Brett spoilage in Australia has dropped by 90 per cent, but the possibility of Brett developing from sulfite-resistance still exists.
Dr Chris Curtin, lead AWRI researcher on the Brett genomics project, says it was this reason the AWRI set out to crack its genetic code.
“Sequencing the Brett genome means we can investigate the potential for an emergence of a ‘super’ strain that is resistant to sulfite treatment. We’ve already found the most important gene responsible for sulfite tolerance in Brett,” Dr Curtin said.
He says the research was like working on “a giant jigsaw puzzle” but has worked to deliver useful results.
“We’ve now cracked the code of ‘the enemy’ and we’re working on new weapons for winemakers to use against this spoilage yeast,” he said.