Measday Lab

Research Team

Vivien MeasdayDr. Vivien Measday, PhD, Associate Professor, Faculty of Land and Food Systems; Associate member of Michael Smith Laboratories and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Phone: 604-827-5744
Fax: 604-822-5143



Wine Research Program

Jay Martiniuk – MSc student, Dept. of Food Science
Elaine Cheng – MSc student, Dept. of Food Science
Garrett McCarthy – MSc student, Dept. of Biology UBC-Okanagan, co-supervisor with Dr. Dan Durall
Yuritzel Moreno-Parra, BSc student, Food Science program
Jonah Hamilton – BSc Biology, UBC, Research Assistant

Retrotransposon Research Program

Savrina Manhas – PhD student, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Stephanie Cheung - PhD student, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Ty1 retrotransposon

Retrotransposons are repetitive DNA elements in the genome that can replicate and insert a new copy into the genome via an RNA intermediate.  The Ty1 retrotransposon of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) is an excellent model system to study retroviral integration because the process of Ty1 retrotransposition resembles that of retroviruses including human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) which is the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).  The integration of retroviral DNA into genomes is not a random process but requires targeting by the interaction of retroviral integrase (IN) with host proteins to regions of the genome that will cause minimal damage to the host. The Ty1 element inserts upstream of genes transcribed by RNA Polymerase (Pol) III such as transfer RNA (tRNA) genes but until recently it was not known what host proteins mediated this interaction.

The Measday lab identified RNA Polymerase III subunits as host factors that help target Ty1-IN and its associated Ty1 DNA upstream of tRNA genes the S. cerevisiae genome. Our current research goals are to identify the precise interacting regions between Ty1-IN and Pol III using a mutagenesis approach in collaboration with Dr. Hung-Ta Chen at Institute of Molecular Biology, Academic Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan and cross-linking mass spectrometry in collaboration with Dr. Thibault Mayor, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UBC. We are also examining the role of the nuclear pore complex in mediating Ty1 tranposition.

Wine Yeast Populations

The focus of the Measday lab’s wine research program is to isolate and characterize the yeast populations associated with the vineyards in one of the major viticultural areas in British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley. Major wine regions worldwide have demonstrated that product differentiation by terroir enhances the marketability and perceived value of their wines. Soil, climate, and topography are the most commonly associated elements of terroir, but yeast and other microbial populations are recognized as an important component, particularly for wines made by spontaneous fermentation.  Spontaneous fermentation is characterized by a diverse succession of yeast species with the ethanol tolerant Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) yeast dominating the final stages of fermentation. The diverse yeast species in a spontaneous fermentation contribute a range of metabolic products which may result in a more organoleptically complex and higher value wine. The wineries that we collaborate with are interested in establishing spontaneous fermentation programs as part of their wine production program.

     We enrich for yeast populations by sampling grapes during the harvest and performing spontaneous fermentations to enrich for the wine yeast S. cerevisiae. We use microsatellite profiling of 11 genomic loci to genetically characterize our S. cerevisiae strains and compare them to a database we have created of commercial yeast strains. We have isolated S. cerevisiae strains with microsatellite profiles that do not match commercial strain profiles, suggesting the possibility of an indigenous Okanagan yeast population. We have also isolated non-Saccharomyces yeast at early, mid and late fermentation and will be exploring their metabolic roles in fermentation. Characterization of regional grapes and their associated yeast populations and how they both contribute to wine quality will improve the differentiation of terroir in one of the major viticultural areas in British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley.


Measday Lab Alumni

Krystina Ho, PhD 2013 -  Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program

Jennifer McQueen, PhD 2012 – Genetics Graduate Program

Michael Anderson, MSc 2011 – Food Science Graduate Program

Lina Ma, PhD 2010 – Genetics Graduate Program

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Faculty of Land and Food Systems
248-2357 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada
Tel: 604-822-1219
Fax: 604-822-6394
Wine Research Centre
2205 East Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada
Tel: 604-822-0005
Fax: 604-822-5143

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC  | © Copyright The University of British Columbia