- Graduate Students
Fission yeast is an essential model for studying how cells grow and divide and for untangling the mysteries of chromosomes. But in terms of efforts to fully sequence its DNA, it has lagged behind budding yeast—the kind of yeast used in making beer and bread—which is a distant cousin on the fungal tree of life. Even though budding yeast is more familiar to most people and has been studied much more extensively, fission yeast is biologically more complex and more similar to animals, including humans, in many important cellular ways.
In a Science paper published online on April 21, a team of researchers led by scientists at UMass Medical School and the Broad Institute give this model organism more evolutionary context and offer new, genomic tools to the community of scientists who use fission yeast to better understand cellular biology. In the process of comparing the four known species of fission yeast, the researchers made some unusual and intriguing discoveries about the fission yeasts’ genetic makeup and the activity of their genes.
“When we began this project, it was with the intent of sequencing new fission yeast genomes so that other researchers could have access to this powerful genomic resource,” said Nick Rhind, Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology at UMMS and first author of the Science paper. “But we always knew that doing this would result in interesting biological insights, and that has been the real fun – finding things we never imagined. It was gratifying to find so many of these things, and we hope they will be followed up by other people in the field.”