Wild Yeast Project!

Wild Yeast Project!

Fantastic Yeasts and Where to Find Them

Welcome to the Wild Yeast Project at University College Dublin. Did you know that there are more organisms in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on the entire planet? In this project, UCD students survey the yeasts living in Irish soil.¬†Yeasts are fungi – they belong to the same family as mushrooms. However, yeasts often have have only one or a few cells, so they are easier to work with, and to grow in the lab. We don’t know what kinds of yeasts live in Irish soil, but we do know that they are required to keep the soil healthy. Climate change may affect the yeasts, so we want to find out what kinds (species) are living here as soon as possible.

This project is part of two third year undergraduate research modules. Starting in 2017, undergraduate students collected soil samples from around Ireland, and used microbiological and genetic techniques to identify yeast species living in the soil. They chose 8 interesting species, and sequenced their genomes (i.e. examine all their DNA). They also learned how to  analyse the data from the genomes.

In September 2019, pupils at 15 primary schools from 13 counties in Ireland helped us to collect soil samples. You can see the location of the schools on the map below.

To see more detail, click on the arrow beside “Schools 2019”.

Children from Castleplunkett NS, Co. Roscommon, collected some soil samples. (you can click on the images to see larger photos).

The undergraduates worked hard to extract yeasts from the soil.

Below are some of the fungi that grew from soil collected by pupils from New Ross Educate Together, Co. Wexford, and pictures of yeast taken down a microscope from soil collected by pupils at Urhan NS, Co. Cork.