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Adv Appl Microbiol. 2013;85:1-41. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-407672-3.00001-0.

Yeast petites and small colony variants: for everything there is a season.

Author information

1
School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom. Electronic address: day@cardiff.ac.uk.

Abstract

The yeast petite mutant was first found in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The colony is small because of a block in the aerobic respiratory chain pathway, which generates ATP. The petite yeasts are thus unable to grow on nonfermentable carbon sources (such as glycerol or ethanol), and form small anaerobic-sized colonies when grown in the presence of fermentable carbon sources (such as glucose). The petite phenotype results from mutations in the mitochondrial genome, loss of mitochondria, or mutations in the host cell genome. The latter mutations affect nuclear-encoded genes involved in oxidative phosphorylation and these mutants are termed neutral petites. They all produce wild-type progeny when crossed with a wild-type strain. The staphylococcal small colony variant (SCV) is a slow-growing mutant that typically exhibits the loss of many phenotypic characteristics and pathogenic traits. SCVs are mostly small, nonpigmented, and nonhaemolytic. Their small size is often due to an inability to synthesize electron transport chain components and so cannot generate ATP by oxidative phosphorylation. Evidence suggests that they are responsible for persistent and/or recurrent infections. This chapter compares the physiological and genetic basis of the petite mutants and SCVs. The review focuses principally on two representatives, the eukaryote S. cerevisiae and the prokaryote Staphylococcus aureus. There is, clearly, commonality in the physiological response. Interestingly, the similarity, based on their physiological states, has not been commented on previously. The finding of an overlapping physiological response that occurs across a taxonomic divide is novel.

KEYWORDS:

Evolution; Petite; Physiological diversity; Selection; Small colony variant

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