The budding yeast has long served as a model eukaryote for the functional genomic analysis of highly conserved signaling pathways, cellular processes and mechanisms underlying human disease. The collection of reagents available for genomics in yeast is extensive, encompassing a growing diversity of mutant collections beyond gene deletion sets in the standard wild-type S288C genetic background. We review here three main types of mutant allele collections: transposon mutagen collections, essential gene collections and overexpression libraries. Each collection provides unique and identifiable alleles that can be utilized in genome-wide, high-throughput studies. These genomic reagents are particularly informative in identifying synthetic phenotypes and functions associated with essential genes, including those modeled most effectively in complex genetic backgrounds. Several examples of genomic studies in filamentous/pseudohyphal backgrounds are provided here to illustrate this point. Additionally, the limitations of each approach are examined. Collectively, these mutant allele collections in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the related pathogenic yeast Candida albicans promise insights toward an advanced understanding of eukaryotic molecular and cellular biology.