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Crit Rev Biotechnol. 1990;9(4):305-19.

Ethanol tolerance in bacteria.

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Department of Microbiology and Cell Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville.


The adverse effects of ethanol on bacterial growth, viability, and metabolism are caused primarily by ethanol-induced leakage of the plasma membrane. This increase in membrane leakage is consistent with known biophysical properties of membranes and ethanolic solutions. The primary actions of ethanol result from colligative effects of the high molar concentrations rather than from specific interactions with receptors. The ethanol tolerance of growth in different microorganisms appears to result in large part from adaptive and evolutionary changes in cell membrane composition. Different cellular activities vary in their tolerance to ethanol. Therefore, it is essential that the aspect of cellular function under study be specifically defined and that comparisons of ethanol tolerance among systems share this common definition. Growth is typically one of the most sensitive cellular activities to inhibition by ethanol, followed by survival, or loss of reproductive ability. Glycolysis is the most resistant of these three activities. Since glycolysis is an exergonic process, a cell need not be able to grow or remain viable for glycolysis to occur.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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