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Rev Argent Microbiol. 2010 Oct-Dec;42(4):298-306. doi: 10.1590/S0325-75412010000400011.

Optimization of killer assays for yeast selection protocols.

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Laboratorio de Microbiología y Biotecnología, Instituto Multidisciplinario de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Patagonia Norte (IDEPA), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas-Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Neuquén, Neuquén, Argentina.


A new optimized semiquantitative yeast killer assay is reported for the first time. The killer activity of 36 yeast isolates belonging to three species, namely, Metschnikowia pulcherrima, Wickerhamomyces anomala and Torulaspora delbrueckii, was tested with a view to potentially using these yeasts as biocontrol agents against the wine spoilage species Pichia guilliermondii and Pichia membranifaciens. The effectiveness of the classical streak-based (qualitative method) and the new semiquantitative techniques was compared. The percentage of yeasts showing killer activity was found to be higher by the semiquantitative technique (60%) than by the qualitative method (45%). In all cases, the addition of 1% NaCl into the medium allowed a better observation of the killer phenomenon. Important differences were observed in the killer capacity of different isolates belonging to a same killer species. The broadest spectrum of action was detected in isolates of W. anomala NPCC 1023 and 1025, and M. pulcherrima NPCC 1009 and 1013. We also brought experimental evidence supporting the importance of the adequate selection of the sensitive isolate to be used in killer evaluation. The new semiquantitative method proposed in this work enables to visualize the relationship between the number of yeasts tested and the growth of the inhibition halo (specific productivity). Hence, this experimental approach could become an interesting tool to be taken into account for killer yeast selection protocols.

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