Yeast

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Ascomycota

Basidiomycota

Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with the 1,500 species currently described[1] estimated to be only 1% of all yeast species.[2] Most reproduce asexually by budding, although a few do so by binary fission. Yeasts are unicellular, although some species with yeast forms may become multicellular through the formation of a string of connected budding cells known as pseudohyphae, or false hyphae, as seen in most molds.[3] Yeast size can vary greatly depending on the species, typically measuring 3–4 µm in diameter, although some yeasts can reach over 40 µm.[4]

The yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been used in baking and in fermenting alcoholic beverages for thousands of years.[5] It is also extremely important as a model organism in modern cell biology research, and is one of the most thoroughly researched eukaryotic microorganisms. Researchers have used it to gather information about the biology of the eukaryotic cell and ultimately human biology.[6] Other species of yeast, such as Candida albicans, are opportunistic pathogens and can cause infections in humans. Yeasts have recently been used to generate electricity in microbial fuel cells,[7] and produce ethanol for the biofuel industry.

Yeasts do not form a single taxonomic or phylogenetic grouping. The term "yeast" is often taken as a synonym for Saccharomyces cerevisiae,[8] but the phylogenetic diversity of yeasts is shown by their placement in two separate phyla, the Ascomycota and the Basidiomycota. The budding yeasts ("true yeasts") are classified in the order Saccharomycetales.[9]

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