YPD 2002 – 2nd Yeast: Products and Discovery (YPD) meeting

Proceedings for the meeting can be downloaded here.

YPD 2002 was held on 27-29 November 2002 at CSIRO Health Sciences and Nutrition, a convenient location on the Parkville strip. The YPD name has another famous meaning for yeast researchers. It is a common abbreviation for the major growth medium for yeast – Yeast extract, Peptone and Dextrose. There were many lively discussions about yeast, the world’s most versatile organism, and its roles in biotechnology, medicine and disease. The versatility of yeast is reflected in the observation that two of the 2001 Physiology and Medicine Nobel laureates, Leland Hartwell and Paul Nurse, recognised for their work on cancer research, were yeast geneticists studying yeast as a model for cancer. ASBMB was a major sponsor of YPD 2002 and provided a tremendous incentive for the students through three substantial student awards. I am frequently touched by the way in which ASBMB seeks to encourage students at ComBio meetings and various other meetings held throughout the year. Once again ASBMB’s sponsorship added to the encouragement for our student registrants to seek excellence. Australian groups deriving benefit from yeast exploitation generously shared some of their yeast products for the YPD social program. Carlton and United Breweries provided the very relaxing opening mixer at their Brewhouse in Abbottsford, highlighting some of their excellent brews. Other yeast products, in the form of some of South Australia’s very top wines, were provided by Southcorp Wines and the University of Adelaide for the conference dinner at the ‘Laureate’ in Parkville which was attended by 50 YPD delegates.

The YPD 2002 delegates hailed from a range of institutions. They were from three CSIRO Divisions, twelve universities, four business enterprises, one research institute and one hospital. Considerable encouragement was given to the 26 student registrants by keeping registration fees to a minimum and through the sponsorship of prizes for the best presentations.

Students gave many of the presentations and all of these were of excellent quality. Four anonymous senior scientists with no connections to any of the students acted as judges. The judges were stretched to make their decision and requested an additional five supplementary prizes.

Three ASBMB student awards of $200 each went to:

  • Janette Berglez (CSIRO – RMIT University) – Developing a model to screen sulfa drug resistance
  • Cristy Gelling (UNSW) – Kinetic analysis of the activation of the one-carbon regulon using microarray technology
  • Andrew Stephens (Monash University) – Yeast ATP synthase: protein engineering and topology

The additional five award winners, who each received bottles of Fleur de Lys were:

  • Anthony Beckhouse (Ramaciotti Centre – UNSW) – Ergosterol requirement of yeast in the protection against oxidative stress in industrial fermentations
  • Kate Howell (UNSW – AWRI) – Yeast strain dynamics during mixed culture wine fermentation and effect on wine composition
  • Sanchita Khan (UNE) – UVB sensitivity of mesophilic yeasts and psychrophilic Antarctic yeasts at different stages of growth
  • Onisha Patel (CSIRO – RMIT University) – Using yeast as a model to demonstrate a new mechanism of sulfa drug action
  • Gabriel Perrone (UNSW) – Cellular functions in glutathione homeostasis identified by genome-wide screening. Engineering yeast for glutathione production

The science sessions appeared as broad as one may find at any Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, or Microbiology conference. Despite this diversity there appeared to be a strong unity based around the organism that was important to all. There were very strong interactions between brewing, wine making and stress as well as genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. There was a session for new yeast technologies, focused on molecular probing, but we saw many new technologies in other sessions too. A new session for YPD looked at medically important yeast, their diversity and what their genomes may be telling us. It is good to see this session in YPD since it is an important part of a billion dollar biotechnology industry that Australia could become more involved in.

In a discussion about the future of YPD meetings, numerous participants expressed sentiments that YPD meetings were filling a major need for them and were now among their most important national meetings. In that regard, until the YPD meetings, Australia certainly has had a major deficiency: many other countries have, for many years, enjoyed yeast meetings that have enabled the building of strong interactions between researchers in industry and academia.

The success of future YPD meetings seems assured with the Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide proposing to host the next YPD meeting in 2004. This proposal was firmly supported by the YPD 2002 delegates.

The abstracts from YPD 2002 can be freely obtained as electronic files from the Editor, Paul Vaughan. Bound copies (ISBN 0-9581991-0-8) can be purchased for $20 each. Please make cheques payable to CSIRO Health Sciences and Nutrition.

This report was contributed by Ian Macreadie on behalf of the YPD 2002 Organising Committee. The report was published in Australian Biochemist (2003) 34(1): 18-19 and is reproduced with permission from ASBMB.