Dominance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in alcoholic fermentation processes: role of physiological fitness and microbial interactions

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Winemaking, brewing and baking are some of the oldest biotechnological processes. In all of them, alcoholic fermentation is the main biotransformation and Saccharomyces cerevisiae the primary microorganism. Although a wide variety of microbial species may participate in alcoholic fermentation and contribute to the sensory properties of end-products, the yeast S. cerevisiae invariably dominates the final stages of fermentation. The ability of S. cerevisiae to outcompete other microbial species during alcoholic fermentation processes, such as winemaking, has traditionally been ascribed to its high fermentative power and capacity to withstand the harsh environmental conditions, i.e. high levels of ethanol and organic acids, low pH values, scarce oxygen availability and depletion of certain nutrients. However, in recent years, several studies have raised evidence that S. cerevisiae, beyond its remarkable fitness for alcoholic fermentation, also uses defensive strategies mediated by different mechanisms, such as cell-to-cell contact and secretion of antimicrobial peptides, to combat other microorganisms. In this paper, we review the main physiological features underlying the special aptitude of S. cerevisiae for alcoholic fermentation and discuss the role of microbial interactions in its dominance during alcoholic fermentation, as well as its relevance for winemaking.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)2035-2046
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Antimicrobial peptides, Cell-to-cell contact, Ecological dominance, Winemaking, Yeast population dynamics

ID: 157722082