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Yeast. 2007 Sep;24(9):741-60.

Monitoring yeast physiology during very high gravity wort fermentations by frequent analysis of gene expression.

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  • 1VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, PO Box 1000, FIN-02044 VTT, Finland.


Brewer's yeast experiences constantly changing environmental conditions during wort fermentation. Cells can rapidly adapt to changing surroundings by transcriptional regulation. Changes in genomic expression can indicate the physiological condition of yeast in the brewing process. We monitored, using the transcript analysis with aid of affinity capture (TRAC) method, the expression of some 70 selected genes relevant to wort fermentation at high frequency through 9-10 day fermentations of very high gravity wort (25 degrees P) by an industrial lager strain. Rapid changes in expression occurred during the first hours of fermentations for several genes, e.g. genes involved in maltose metabolism, glycolysis and ergosterol synthesis were strongly upregulated 2-6 h after pitching. By the time yeast growth had stopped (72 h) and total sugars had dropped by about 50%, most selected genes had passed their highest expression levels and total mRNA was less than half the levels during growth. There was an unexpected upregulation of some genes of oxygen-requiring pathways during the final fermentation stages. For five genes, expression of both the Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. bayanus components of the hybrid lager strain were determined. Expression profiles were either markedly different (ADH1, ERG3) or very similar (MALx1, ILV5, ATF1) between these two components. By frequent analysis of a chosen set of genes, TRAC provided a detailed and dynamic picture of the physiological state of the fermenting yeast. This approach offers a possible way to monitor and optimize the performance of yeast in a complex process environment.

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