Sodium Bicarbonate Tolerance

Evolving sodium bicarbonate tolerance in yeast can help us understand how fungi adapt to alkaline soil environments.

Sodium bicarbonate is commonly used as baking soda, but fungi also encounter it in alkaline soil (Cao et al. 2022). Many studies have been carried out on the effects of alkaline soils on plant growth, but few studies have focused on fungal diversity and fitness.

We are also interested in comparing the effects of salinity and pH on yeast evolution. The bicarbonate ion can inhibit the growth of yeast, but acts through mechanisms beyond solely changes in pH (Curran and Montville, 1989). We will compare the mutations that increase fitness in sodium bicarbonate to mutations beneficial for salinity and alkalinity tolerance. By analyzing data collected from this year’s high school experiments, and comparing it to previous yEvo experiments and other published studies, we can further our understanding of how yeast evolves in the presence of different environmental stressors.

This project is being carried out with Tim Renz at Tukwila High School, Ryan Skophammer at Westridge School, Kelsey van Dalfsen at The Downtown School, and Maitreya Dunham at the University of Washington.