The Wild Pombe Hunt

Join the Wild Pombe Hunt!

We need your help.  We want to study the diversity of the fission yeast S. pombe – but we don’t have many wild strains to work with. No one does.

We have some clues about where this yeast grows, but its quite rare, so we need a lot of samples. You can help by sending us some of these substances (we’ll pay for postage):

honey comb (unprocessed, from bee hives)
fruit, fruit juice or pulp
fermented drinks (beer, wine, cider, etc)
 kombucha (fermented tea)
 sap or nectar

To obtain live yeasts, samples should be organic, unsterilised, unpasteurised, and not from a factory. If you can get any of these samples and want to join The Wild Pombe Hunt, get in touch. Send me a mail at:,  or fill out the form below. We’d be happy to hear from school groups, individuals, scientists.

fission yeasts look like this

Why this is important?
The fission yeast (S. pombe) is a well-studied model organism. It’s an excellent tool for studying how cells grow and divide, and was central to the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the proteins that control cell division. Pombe is now being used to study how cells age. Because ageing is very similar between all living things, this will increase our understanding of why people age.

We also found recently that some wild fission yeast strains make good wine. There are probably be even better strains out there, that will make better wine. Some strains might be useful for making bioethanol.

Why are we doing this?
 The vast majority of what we know about fission yeast  comes from experiments with just one strain. Imagine if all we knew about human biology was from the study of one person – we wouldn’t be able to describe most diseases well. Until now only 56 other strains of this yeast have been available for research, which limits the experiments we can do. For example, if we’d like to to understand ageing, it helps to have some long-lived yeasts, and some short-lived, so we can study what makes them different.

What do we want to achieve? What will we do then?

We want to find more strains of fission yeast. When we get them, we’ll sequence their genomes, and measure hundreds of quantitative traits, like how fast they grow, how long they live, and how they metabolise different sugars. We can then describe how the genomes (the genetics) affects these traits using genome-wide association studies. This will tell us more about genetics, particularly how genomes create cells. We will also deposit all the strains to The Japanese National BioResource Project, so anyone can get them and use them for more experiments. You never know what interesting discoveries will come out of this (we don’t either).

Get in touch:

Read more:
 About fission yeast.
 About our work with wild fission yeast (or get the published article here).
 The Bähler lab (where it’s all going to happen).
 About the Nobel Prize in 2001.
 About genome-wide association studies.
 Nikolai Nikolayevich Miklucho-Maklai and Ernst Haeckel (the hipster naturalists in the photo).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: