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Can J Microbiol. 1992 Dec;38(12):1242-51.

Utilization of tartaric acid and related compounds by yeasts: taxonomic implications.

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Portuguese Yeast Culture Collection, Laboratory of Microbiology, Gulbenkian Institute of Science, Oeiras.


A survey of yeasts capable of growing on L(+)-tartaric acid as the sole source of carbon and energy showed that this organic acid is assimilated by a significant number of species of basidiomycetous affinity and is seldom utilized by ascomycetous yeasts. This conclusion was further supported by the fact that among approximately 100 isolates from various natural substrates, using selective media with L(+)-tartaric acid, only one strain of ascomycetous affinity was obtained. In a more comprehensive survey 442 yeast strains belonging to 138 species, mostly of basidiomycetous affinity, were also screened for the assimilation of different aldaric acids: D(-)-tartaric acid, meso-tartaric acid, L(-)-malic acid, D(+)-glucaric acid (saccharic acid), and galactaric acid (mucic acid). L(+)-Tartrate was the most frequently utilized tartaric acid isomer (55% of the total number of strains of basidiomycetous affinity belonging to either the Tremellales/Filobasidiales or the Ustilaginales) when compared with the D(-) and meso forms, which were assimilated by 12 and 18% of the total number of strains, respectively (mainly of tremellaceous species). Saccharic acid was utilized by about 75% of the total number of species of Tremellales affinity and by less than 20% of the ustilaginaceous species. Assimilation of mucic acid occurred in more than 50% of the tremellaceous species and only in 5% of the species related to the Ustilaginales. These tests, not used in standard yeast identification sets, appear to contribute to distinguishing taxa at or above the species level.

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