The “Innovations in yeast biotechnology for fermented beverages” was the first summer school of the YEASTDOC training programme. The INRA team welcomed the enthusiastic PhD students, PIs and company partners to SupAgro, Montpellier.
It was an intense and productive week; a unique opportunity for all partners and ESRs to get to know each other and talk about the expectations of YEASTDOC, and a great chance to befriend each other, to collaborate and to encourage team building.
The themes of the first summer school reflected the different applications of yeasts focusing on beverage and white biotechnology sectors. The 12 PhD students presented their PhD projects and plans, as well as introducing themselves and their background to the partners of the network.
Senior academic PIs presented the importance of natural yeast diversity, the genetic and environmental influences on flavour and aroma production, the application of quantitative genetics to decipher complex traits in yeasts and enhancing stress tolerance to improve the performance of industrial cell factory strains for the production of bioproducts.
Experts introduced adaptive laboratory evolution, golden gate cloning, flow cytometry using interactive technical tutorials. The industry participants presented their companies and their research to the ESRs, and we even got the chance to taste Heineken’s H32, an innovative beer made using a wild yeast strain from the Himalayas.
On the second day, Pernod Ricard hosted all the participants and organized a great tour of their premises in Thuir and a delicious lunch allowing us to try various products and wine.
Aside from science, the ESRs attended a workshop in science communication, facilitated by Prof Patricia Osseweijer from TU Delft, during which they discussed their ideas for sharing scientific knowledge. UCCs Dr Ruth Hally gave an introduction to Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), which enabled them to understand how it is possible to move from “the best science in the world” to “the best science for the world”, ensuring that their work has the right responsible impact in society.
All in all, it was really enjoyable to have an overview of the different applications of yeasts and their potential, and to understand the science behind the industrial production of fermented beverages and bioproducts. It was also great to meet the other ESRs, share ideas, and understand the connections between the different PhD projects within the network. Moreover, there were plenty of moments of fun, like dinners, relaxing on the beach and swimming in the beautiful French sea and enjoying the nightlife of Montpellier all together.