Plant Cuttings

Cheers, mate!

Wikipebeer Image: Wikimedia Commons.
Wikipebeer Image: Wikimedia Commons.

A few years ago ‘-omics’ were all the rage in biology: metabolomics, genomics, transcriptomics, etc. And for traditional [a euphemism for old-fashioned (?)] botanists like myself it seemed that a very strange, brave new world was unfolding, and one occasionally wondered what all the fuss was about. Well, it all makes perfect sense now that I’ve stumbled across probably the most important -omic study of them all, the proteome of beer (a cereal-based alcoholic beverage, apparently the third most popular drink on the planet). In an investigation that must cheer every disciple of the cask-conditioner’s art, Elisa Fasoli and colleagues (Journal of Proteome Research 9: 5262–5269, 2010) evaluated the beer proteome ‘via prior capture with combinatorial peptide ligand libraries (ProteoMiner as well as a homemade library of reduced polydispersity)’. Try saying that after a few, err, ‘experiments’(!). The serious, sober, scientific study identified 20 different barley protein families and two maize proteins – the only cereal ones to survive the brewing process – in their chosen tipple. It is hoped such information may help in the quest to select ‘proper proteinaceous components that might enrich beer flavor and texture’. Sadly, the study was conducted specifically on so-called ‘lager beer’ and we must await its extension to real ale; nevertheless, this is the sort of feel-good work that I think we can all raise a glass to! I wonder if they need a research assistant to help out with a protocol that ‘permits handling of very large beer volumes (litres, if needed[!!]) in a very simple and user-friendly manner and in a much reduced sample handling time’? If you would like to see a short video about the restorative effects of a liquid product from Carslberg (other lager makers do exist, probably…), visit

About the author

Nigel Chaffey

Nigel is a botanist and full-time academic at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany he contributes the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that august international botanical organ. His main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an educational, and entertaining way...) about plants and plant-people interactions.