back to article Flies WANT beer booze and now we know why - yeast

Flies love a pint of beer as much as the rest of us, so it transpires, because they are deceived by yeast chemicals that mimic the fragrance of fruit, according to Euro boffins. As well as transforming sugars to carbon dioxide and alcohol, microbes in yeast produce molecules that attract winged warriors to transport these ‘ …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Microbes in yeast...

    Err... Saccharomyces cerevisiae is not a microbe. It is a eucariote.

    At least so I remember from the days when I was still undecided if I will go to the darkside and do IT or to the light side and help humanity in their fight against diseases. My first salaried job (while still in high school) was a lab assistant in a mol biol lab and I fondly remember my attempts to dupe that damn "microbe" into producing human gamma interferon. Not an easy task by the way as it is quite fussy to what DNA it will incorproate (not like microbes which you can engineer with plasmids or phages in many weird and wonderful ways).

    As far as the strain of yeast not being important, that is b*llocks. One of the reasons why soviet beer with the exemption of the stuff from the Baltics used to suck rocks is exactly because most factories were mandated to use a mutant strain (so that people do not try to seed their home potato fermenter with it). The mutant was producing excessive stinky bits (ketones) if you did not keep the pH acidic enough so the average Vovka without access to food quality phosphoric acid could not do some DIY brewing.

    Granted, that is an extreme example, however as every brewer knows there is yeast that produces nice healthy beer and wine and there is yeast that produces ourtight stinkers (even without the bloody soviet "anti-DIY brewing" mod).

    1. Pierre Castille

      Re: Microbes in yeast...

      To Err... is to err

      The Microbiology course I attended (Keele University, 1968) included a study of yeast and brewing. Microbes are small living things only visible under a microscope. Yeasts are small and living. True they are also eukaryotes as distinct from bacteria which are prokaryotic.

      Other than a small error (apologies for my pedantry but we IT types must be correct) what you say is interesting.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    Any fule kno that

    I used to do a bit of home brewing, mostly wines and never really got deeply into it ( just enough to drink). I learned from a couple of books from the local library in pre- internet days but if you go on to almost any home brewing forum much of the talk is about different yeast mixes and how much they affect the qualities of beers and wines, in addition there are many other bugs that are essential to particular brews. They work with the yeast/s to produce various effects.

    Some of the loder wine and beer regions guard their yeasts fanatically as do cheesemakers with some of the different microbes that produce some of the excellent cheeses.

    Stilton is as far as I remember the result of us stealing Penecillium Roquefortii from the French, a mold peculiar to the caves at the village of Roqefort.

    Talk of all this reminds me, I have a chunk of Flores des cueva a strong hard cheese made from ewes milk, comes in a wooden box that always fails to conceal its piquance, I think I may have to open a bottle of Riber del Duero Syrah that has been calling to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Any fule kno that

      May i suggest "stinking bishop" for a full on nasal assualt the likes of which you have yet to experience.

      My other half once decided to treat me to some after hearing my mentioning it. On the bus, with it in her shopping bag, getting looks from everyone....

    2. Uffish

      Re: Any fule kno that

      Penecillium Roquefortii is as common as muck and the blue varieries of Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton most likely evolved independantly.

      Louis Pasteur did sterling work on optimising yeast strains and would have been a good place to go for a good strain of whatever yeast you were looking for. No need to steal it, for a modest price you would get sufficient to breed your own, and with full after sales service.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    New Research? Really?

    Brewers and winemakers have long known that different strains of yeast produce different flavored and smelling beers. Same for wine. And I'm guessing it's the same for the distillers.

    Where's the new research here other than they figured out why flies are drawn to the stuff?

    1. Pierre Castille

      Re: New Research? Really?

      Where's the new research here other than they figured out why flies are drawn to the stuff?

      That is the new research!

      Those of us who have done research know that it is comprised of small steps, in the same way that a jigsaw puzzle is made up of small pieces.

      I am not criticizing you personally, but many correspondents to The Register, in my opinion, fail to understand the research process and the human effort required.

      Research finding tend to be dismissed too easily by those not involved in research. It's bleedin' obvious, or it's only done to get funding; rather than the satisfaction of curiosity.

      There is too much of a "well it must be easy because I am no expert in this field, but I will give you my opinion anyway..." attitude and comment on research findings by people who seemingly have never done any serious research.

      Dunning–Kruger effect. - Find out about it and see if you agree.

      I rest my case.

  4. 4ecks


    Now all they need to do is explain why Drosophila bibitor can still fly with a blood alcohol level that would floor most humans.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Re: Evolution

      Some fruit flies and the like will purposely select fruit that is fermenting, and naturally brewing alcohol, which normally is *not* a good thing for the larvae to be swimming through. When? If there are parasitic wasps hanging around (which amazing the flies can detect) then the flies lay their eggs on the alcoholic fruit. Because the alcohol helps retard or defeat the wasps' eggs should they try to parasitise the larvae. No wasps, then they pick healthy fruit. Wasps, then they pick noxious, hoping it will improve the chances for the larvae.

      Is this stuff cool or what?

      Now would *y'all* have thought of an idea like that to check out? Researchers don't stop at "huh?". They love "hey, why that screwy fly/whale/asteroid doing *that!*"

  5. Frederic Bloggs

    Mozzy traps

    One wonders whether well known "cut a lemonade bottle in half, fill bottom half with some water and add a sachet of yeast, invert the top half and force into the bottom half and gaffer tape together" style of mozzy trap - which is extraordinarily effective - was the inspiration for this research?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Mozzy traps

      In this case I believe it is the CO2 released by the yeast that attracts the mozzies, rather than more complex aromatics.

      I just re-read my earlier post, maybe typing should come before wine.

  6. roger stillick

    Flies want beer yeast, how do they get it ??

    Yeasts at my local brewer's store come in sealed glass containers and are in a locked refrigeraor until sold...

    Q= how are flies going to get to those yeast beasties ??

    IMHO= i have always been told that there are airborne yeasts everywhere, even on tne frozen highland plains of central Antarcttica, thats why the brewing kettles are always closed except for adding ingredients and stirring...REF= Wiki, Wort.

    caveiat= not a brewmeister, only an occasional helper, but i do make small batches of fruit wine, with purchased yeasts...RS.

  7. Eddy Ito

    So do what the rest of us do and use half a lime or lemon wedge and rest it on the top of the bottle. In general the citrus will keep most flies at bay. I'm baffled by the young'uns who insist on expressing it into the beer and pushing the rest through the neck of the bottle as if it were a condiment - well, that is unless they're drinking Bud here in the US in which case most anything would improve the taste, even the flies.

  8. davcefai

    The importance of yeast.

    I don't know who decided that the importance of yeast has been underestimated but it certainly was not a brewer.

    Breweries go to great lengths to "protect" their yeast. This includes maintaining cultures at two independent laboratories and growing up a new culture from a single cell every 8 to 12 generations and maintaining "backups".

    In emergency procedures manuals it is not unusual to find yeast preservation as a priority. During normal production yeast quality is monitored more carefully than the average baby's health.

    (I am both a father and a brewer)

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Off Topic but important (to me)

    I have a rare illness that seems to interact with yeasts, could any of the experts posting here tell me of anything I can eat/drink to kill off any yeast I inadvertently ingest??

    Even a minute amount leaves me at deaths door* for 36-48 hours.

    I cannot get the quacks to take me seriously, even though my condition has improved by 100% by avoiding bread yeasts (now a massive 15% of normal blood count and climbing).

    * Well, it FEELS like deaths door.

    Boffin - natch.

    1. Jan 0

      Re: Off Topic but important (to me)

      Baked bread doesn't always get properly pasteurised in the centre*, so may still contain some live yeast. If it really is only live yeast that's the problem, you need to avoid all yeast risen bakery goods and any unpasteurised beer or wine (that includes any "methode champenoise" fizz:(. There's nothing you can eat or drink that will rapidly kill yeast without also killing yourself. There are imidazole and triazole antifungal agents, e.g. fluconazole, used medically, but they are fairly toxic and only used orally for short periods for intractable fungal infections. You wouldn't want to take them routinely. I think you need to pay a lot of attention to food labels and ask shops, restaurants and cafes whether what you want to eat contains yeast. If you're in the EU then you are entitled to know the ingedients of foods whether they're packaged or not. Also bear in mind that many fruits have a film of yeast on their skin. This may be thick enough to be seen as a 'bloom' on fruits such as plums, grapes and blackcurrants, but will also be present on many other fruits, e.g. apples, figs, dates, rosehips. Yeast from fruit surfaces will not be included in a list of ingredients which includes such fruit. Thorough cooking should adequetely protect you. Are you sure that it's only live yeast that's the problem? Leavened bread contains plenty of dead yeast. If you like bread, you might try soda bread (it's very easy to make from ready mixed packs).

      * needs to be >65 C for a minute

      Luckily, I don't have your problem, mine's the one with "Etudes sur la Biere" dans la poche.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Off Topic but important (to me)

        Thanks for the reply, I am not certain that dead yeast is any safer, I have had mild reactions to "yeast extract", and I already wash fruit with yeast on the skin, although you seem to be saying this might not be enough??

        I AM very careful and read the labels, however sometimes something is safe today, but they change the ingredients tomorrow. I have had this happen a couple of times and ended up confined to bed for 48 hours; even some spice mixes slip yeast in!!! (I got caught out by a Polish mixture).

        Sausages and burgers are a problem, most are padded out with bread, the best I have found so far are from Lidl that ciotain potato instead of wheat.

        Because I cannot get anyone to take me seriously, I cannot get any tests done to see if there is a trigger threshold; I was undergoing food allergy trials at Addenbrookes, but as soon as my treatment proved their theories were wrong, they lost all interest in me.

        1. kraut

          Re: Off Topic but important (to me)

          If bread causes the problem, it might not be the yeast, but the gluten that's the issue - just a thought. But avoiding grains, except in distilled form, help some people.

  10. Anonymous Blowhard

    Bar Flies?

    (Title may contain joke)

  11. Sebastian Brosig

    thank god

    Used to say "Eat more shit, millions of flies can't be wrong" quite a lot. Now I can vary that to "Drink more beer"!

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