Indexed on: 29 Jan '08Published on: 29 Jan '08Published in: International Journal of Food Microbiology
Along the fermentation process yeasts are affected by a succession of stress conditions that affect their viability and fermentation efficiency. Among the stress conditions the most relevant are high sugar concentration and low pH in musts, temperature and, as fermentation progresses, ethanol accumulation. Nowadays, due to the demanding nature of modern winemaking practices and sophisticated wine markets, there is an ever-growing search for particular wine yeast strains possessing a wide range of optimized, improved or novel enological characteristics. Traditionally, the species S. cerevisiae and S. bayanus within the Saccharomyces sensu stricto species are considered some of the most important yeast species involved in fermentation processes. However, in the last years, hybrid strains between the species S. cerevisiae, S. bayanus and S. kudriavzevii have been described as yeasts conducting the alcoholic fermentations and some of them are commercially available. Our results indicate that yeasts in the Saccharomyces sensu stricto complex were not affected by low pH or high glucose content in the media; however temperature and ethanol concentration variables appreciably affected their growth. The strains pertaining to S. cerevisiae were able to tolerate high temperature stress, whereas strains within S. bayanus and S. kudriavzevii were better adapted to growth at lower temperatures. Regarding to alcohol tolerance, S. cerevisiae is tolerating alcohol better than S. bayanus or S. kudriavzevii. Surprisingly, the natural hybrids between these species have adapted to growth under ethanol and temperature stress by inheriting competitive traits from one or another parental species. These results open new perspectives in the construction of new hybrid strains with biotechnological interest, as the characteristics of the parents may result in interesting combinations in the hybrids.