genus of yeasts belonging to the family Saccharomycetaceae (phylum Ascomycota, kingdom Fungi). An outstanding characteristic of members of Saccharomyces is their ability to convert sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol by means of enzymes. The yeasts used to ferment sugars in the manufacture of baked goods, beers, wines, distilled spirits, and industrial alcohols are all strains of one species, S. cerevisiae. One such yeast cell can ferment approximately its own weight of glucose, the simplest form of sugar, in one hour. See also yeast.
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