Influence of invertase activity and glycerol synthesis and retention on fermentation of media with a high sugar concentration by Saccharomyces cerevisiae.


In the past, the fermentation activity of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in substrates with a high concentration of sucrose (HSuc), such as sweet bread doughs, has been linked inversely to invertase activity of yeast strains. The present work defines the limits of the relationship between invertase activity and fermentation in hyperosmotic HSuc medium. Fourteen polyploid, wild-type strains of S. cerevisiae with different invertase levels gave a similar ranking of fermentation activity in HSuc and in medium in which glucose and fructose replaced sucrose (HGF medium). Thus, invertase is unlikely to be the most important determinant of fermentation in sweet doughs. Yeasts produce the compatible solute-osmoprotective compound glycerol when exposed to hyperosmotic environments. Under low sugar concentrations (and nonstressing osmotic pressure), there was no correlation between glycerol and fermentation activities. However, there was a strong correlation between the ability of yeasts to ferment in HSuc or HGF medium and their capacity to produce and retain glycerol intracellularly. There was also a strong correlation between intracellular glycerol and fermentation activity of yeasts in a medium in which the nonfermentable sugar alcohol sorbitol replaced most of the sugars (HSor), but the ability to produce and retain glycerol was greater when yeasts were incubated in HGF medium under the same osmotic pressure. The difference between the amounts of glycerol produced and retained in HSor and in HGF media varied with strains. This implies that high fermentable sugar concentrations cause physiological conditions that allow for enhanced glycerol production and retention, the degree of which is strain dependent. In conclusion, one important prerequisite for yeast strains to ferment media with high concentrations of sugar is the ability to synthesize glycerol and especially to retain it.

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