Oenococcus oeni, a species born and moulded in wine: a critical review of the stress impacts of wine and the physiological responses

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Oenococcus oeni is a lactic acid bacterium highly adapted to the stressful environment of wine, and is widely used as an industrial starter culture to conduct malolactic fermentation (MLF), the conversion of L-malate to L-lactate. Some cold-climate wine regions still produce wines which prove too stressful for the application of a starter culture, resulting in sluggish or stuck MLFs which compromise the quality and stability of the wine. The literature on the three primary stress factors, low pH, ethanol and SO2, is reviewed as well as their toxic mechanisms; possible interactions between the stress factors are also discussed. In particular, the toxic mechanisms of SO2, an extremely inhibitory compound, are poorly understood. in vitro studies as well as in vivo studies in other prokaryotes point to numerous mechanisms which could have widespread impacts on the cell envelope, proteins and DNA in O. oeni. We also review the responses of O. oeni to these stress factors and offer a simplified model of events which cultures inoculated into particularly stressful wines may experience. Although significant advances have been made in our understanding of the stress responses in recent years, many fundamental aspects still require study.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Journal of Grape and Wine Research
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)188-206
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • adaptation, malolactic, Oenococcus oeni, stress, wine

ID: 242657063