Taking the stress off yeast produces better wine

September 9, 2009

Turning grape juice into wine is a stressful business for yeasts. Dr Agustin Aranda from the University of Valencia, Spain has identified the genes in yeast that enable it to respond to stress and is investigating ways to improve yeast performance by modifying its stress response mechanism.

Speaking at the Society for General Microbiology meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, today (9 September), Dr Aranda described the stresses that wine yeasts undergo in the fermentation process. Industrial wine making involves adding dried starter cultures to the juice; both the drying and reactivating processes cause stress damage to the yeast cells. As the juice is fermented into wine the rising ethanol (alcohol) levels also damage the yeast cells and oxidation causes further damage.

By manipulating the genes that control the stress response of the yeast, the researchers found that they could improve its performance in industrial fermentation processes. They found that a family of enzymes called sirtuins had an important role in controlling yeast lifespan.

"Our research aimed to improve winemaking techniques but our findings on oxidative stress and ageing in yeast could be potentially useful in understanding the positive roles of antioxidants present in grapes and grape juice," said Dr Aranda.

Source: Society for General Microbiology

Explore further: Yeast: The secret ingredient that makes a good wine rise to the occasion

Related Stories

On the origin of subspecies

February 11, 2009

Scientists have sequenced over seventy strains of yeast, the greatest number of genomes for any species.

Recommended for you

Mapping the protein universe

October 9, 2015

To understand how life works, figure out the proteins first. DNA is the architect of life, but proteins are the workhorses. After proteins are built using DNA blueprints, they are constantly at work breaking down and building ...

ZomBee Watch helps scientists track honeybee killer

October 9, 2015

While scientists have documented cases of tiny flies infesting honeybees, causing the bees to lurch and stagger around like zombies before they die, researchers don't know the scope of the problem.

Gene editing: Research spurs debate over promise vs. ethics

October 9, 2015

The hottest tool in biology has scientists using words like revolutionary as they describe the long-term potential: wiping out certain mosquitoes that carry malaria, treating genetic diseases like sickle-cell, preventing ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.