Yeasts are unicellular fungi.
People have used budding yeast for food and beverages fermentation for centuries without knowledge of its nature. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, yeast was not considered to be a living organism. The first scientific research on yeast was done not by biologists but almost exclusively researched by chemists, who were investigating alcoholic fermentation.
In 1789 the founder of modern chemistry Antoine L. Lavoisier published the first clear account of the chemical changes that occur in fermentation. In order to investigate, during fermentation, the conversion of sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol, he carried out a number of analyses, estimating the proportions of the elements in sugar, water and yeast paste. He described the phenomenon of alcoholic fermentation as ‘one of the most extraordinary in chemistry’.
Louis Pasteur has written a scientific article in 1858 about alcoholic fermentation caused by yeast, his reasearch was sponsored by local French brewers and winemakers.
Baker’s yeast is used in the food industry as leaven(bread, beer, wine, dairy products), condiment, food supplement, and livestock feed.
Many species of yeast are applied in biotechnology as producers of ethanol(incl. biofuel), methanol, farmaceutical substances(recombinant proteins, etc.).
The biggest scientific resource about yeast genetics is the Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD). It provides comprehensive integrated biological information for the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae along with search and analysis tools.
Louis Pasteur published the article "New facts about the history the of alcoholic fermentation" in the journal Comptes Rendus Chimie
"Nouveaux faits concernant l'histoire de la fermentation alcoolique". Comptes Rendus Chimie (in French). 47: 1011–1013.
A history of research on yeasts 2: Louis Pasteur and his contemporaries, 1850–1880
A history of research on yeasts. 1: Work by chemists and biologists 1789-1850
James A. Barnett
Genetics, Molecular and Cell Biology
Getting started with yeast