Saccharomyces uvarumis responsible for the traditional fermentation of applechichain Patagonia

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Apple chicha is a fresh low alcoholic beverage elaborated by aboriginal communities of Andean Patagonia (Argentina and Chile). In the present work, we identified the yeast microbiota associated with this fermentation, and characterized genetically those belonging to the genus Saccharomyces. Both Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. uvarum were found in the analyzed fermentations. Phylogenetic and population structure analyses based on genes sequence analysis were carried out for both S. cerevisiae and S. uvarum strains obtained in this study and a set of additional strains from diverse origins. The results demonstrate that S. cerevisiae strains from apple chicha belong to the big group of wine/European strains of this species, while S. uvarum strains were included in the Holartic population of this species. Additionally, some S. uvarum strains from chichas evidenced as an admixture of both pure Holartic and pure South American populations. Our results suggest that Holartic strains could have been introduced in South America together with the domestication of apple trees by Mapuche communities. This Holartic population suffered admixis with the naturally present South American population of this species, originating strains bearing genetic features from the two populations, detectable in both chichas and natural habitats.

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