Since ancient times, fermented foods produced through the activities of yeasts have contributed significantly to the worldwide development of human societies. The domestication of Saccharomyces cerevisiae can be considered a key event in human history.
Archaeologists found evidence that fermented beverages and leavened breads produced by yeasts were consumed as early as 8500-4000 BC in Egypt. The technologies and know-how used in food and alcoholic fermentations have been continuously refined over time, comprising the earliest developed biotechnology applications.
The practical skills required for efficient yeast fermentation processes were transferred from generation to generation without detailed knowledge of the scientific principles. The scientific and technological understanding of fermentations was clarified primarily from the investigations of Louis Pasteur. He reported in 1876 that microorganisms were responsible for alcohol formation from sugars. Pure cultures of S. cerevisiae and other yeasts were further established in 1888 by Christian Hansen.