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

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

4 million years at Africa's salad bar

August 3, 2015

As grasses grew more common in Africa, most major mammal groups tried grazing on them at times during the past 4 million years, but some of the animals went extinct or switched back to browsing on trees and shrubs, according ...

A look at living cells down to individual molecules

August 3, 2015

EPFL scientists have been able to produce footage of the evolution of living cells at a nanoscale resolution by combining atomic force microscopy and an a super resolution optical imaging system that follows molecules that ...

New lizard named after Sir David Attenborough

August 3, 2015

A research team led by Dr Martin Whiting from the Department of Biological Sciences recently discovered a beautifully coloured new species of flat lizard, which they have named Platysaurus attenboroughi, after Sir David Attenborough.

0 comments

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.