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Yeast Research: A Historical Overview

Editors: James A. Barnett1, Linda Barnett
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Affiliations: 1: School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
Content Type: Monograph
Format: Hardcover, Electronic
Publication Year: 2011

Category: Fungi and Fungal Pathogenesis; History of Science

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, which was originally concerned with improving wine-making and brewing processes, has played a major role in the development of a number of modern scientific disciplines. In the 20th century, investigations of yeasts laid the foundations for mitochondrial genetics and cell cycle research. Today, thousands of people are engaged in research on yeasts, studying their physiology, metabolism, genetics, and molecular biology and developing new applications for industry and medicine. The book describes the historical background of this important work.

This book reviews the history of yeast research, beginning with fermentation research at the end of the 18th century. It traces our growing understanding of yeasts and their role in the evolution of microbiology, biochemistry, cytology, and genetics, and it includes an account of research on medical yeasts. Readers will learn how findings in yeast research were used to overcome complex problems and to develop currently accepted scientific concepts and methods.

Author James Barnett has worked on yeasts in the laboratory for 50 years and accordingly emphasizes experimental evidence, reproducing many figures from the original researchers’ work as well as illustrations of the equipment they used. The book is enlivened with images of many of the scientists and offers accounts of notable incidents in the lives of some of them.

More than 2,400 references are included, and there are many direct quotations from these sources. With its detailed discussions of the development of theory, methods, and techniques, serves as a key resource for anyone teaching or learning microbiology, biochemistry, or general biology.

There are no separately available contributors for this publication.

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Microbiology Today

16 July 2013

This unique book has been developed from a number of articles originally published in Yeast. Written by a scientist for scientists, it covers research from the late 18th century until the year 2000. There are many useful figures, interesting original quotations (including from those who got things completely wrong) and entertaining photographs of some of the key protagonists. It is a book to dip into, and I always found myself hooked and read more than I planned to. Yeasts are now at the forefront of genetics research, but this book reminds us of their seminal importance in the development of biochemistry and microbiology amongst other sciences. Putting research into the historical context of how we got where we are today, it should be in the library of all institutions where these sciences are studied. Students should be encouraged to read parts of it even if only to show them that there was science before genomics!

Society for General Microbiology: Microbiology Today

Reviewer: Alan Wheals, University of Bath

Review Date: August 2012

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